Louis Freeh’s Superior Court appeal raises new issues in defamation lawsuit

mcarroll@centredaily.comApril 8, 2014 

US NEWS PENNSTATE-ABUSE 10 SC

Judge Jonathan Grine issued an opinion saying Louis Freeh, in his appeal to the state Superior Court, raised new issues that were not included in his original arguments to have the Spanier lawsuit paused.

CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE — CDT file photo

A Centre County judge said former FBI director Louis Freeh raised new issues in his legal fight to advance a defamation case against him.

Judge Jonathan D. Grine issued an opinion saying Freeh, in his appeal to the state Superior Court, includes arguments not heard in county court. Ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier has filed an intent to sue Freeh but wants the case paused pending his criminal case.

Freeh’s attorneys, among other things, argue the criminal case against Spanier could take years. The attorneys suggest they want to ask that the case be removed to federal court, but said there is a one year deadline for that request and it might expire while waiting for Spanier’s criminal case to play out.

In his opinion filed Tuesday, Grine said Freeh failed to make that argument about the federal court deadline when asking the case be put on hold.

Grine granted a stay in the case earlier this year, and attorneys for Freeh have since filed a notice of appeal with the higher court.

Spanier’s lawyers have yet to file a formal complaint outlining the allegations of defamation against Freeh, whose report in the summer of 2012 labeled the former president part of a conspiracy to hide abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky. Filing an intent to sue preserves the right to sue without the statute of limitations expiring.

Freeh’s lawyers have repeatedly said Spanier cannot ask for a stay without first making public the allegations. They also have said Freeh wants to clear his name of the accusation implied by Spanier’s lawsuit.

Spanier is facing trial with fellow former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. The lawyers argued neither Spanier, Curley nor Schultz may testify given the criminal proceeding and that materials introduced in the civil case could be used against them in the criminal case.

Grine agreed with Spanier’s attorneys, prompting Freeh’s legal team to file an emergency motion last month asking the judge to reconsider. When Grine upheld his initial ruling, Freeh’s lawyers appealed to the state Superior Court.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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