Freeh wants Spanier suit moved to federal court

mcarroll@centredaily.comJuly 9, 2014 

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Attorneys for former FBI director Louis Freeh asked to have the defamation lawsuit against their client brought by ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier moved to federal court.

Freeh’s attorneys filed the paperwork Wednesday, just days before the one-year anniversary of Spanier serving his notice of intent to sue.

Freeh has been fighting a Centre County judge’s decision to grant Spanier a stay in the case while his own legal battles play out in Dauphin County.

His attorneys have argued that the delay could cost Freeh the opportunity to have the proceedings moved to federal court because of a one-year deadline.

On Tuesday, Freeh’s lawyers filed a separate document asking a judge to nullify the one-year time limit.

But they don’t appear willing to wait for that decision, on Wednesday asking that the case be moved to federal court. Freeh’s attorneys argue that is the appropriate venue because he is not a Pennsylvania resident, and the damages sought exceed a certain threshold.

A Centre County judge granted a stay in the case earlier this year. Attorneys for Freeh unsuccessfully appealed that ruling to the state Superior Court, which found it lacked jurisdiction in the case.

Freeh’s lawyers have argued that Spanier improperly asked for a stay because he has yet to make public his allegations, and has only filed notice of intent to sue.

Spanier’s lawyers have yet to file a formal complaint outlining the allegations of defamation against Freeh, whose report in summer 2012 labeled the former Penn State president part of a conspiracy to hide abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach and convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

Spanier and former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are charged with perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to report abuse stemming from the Sandusky scandal. Their lawyers have maintained that their clients are innocent and have asked the judge presiding over the case to dismiss all the charges.

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

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