Former Penn State president Graham Spanier wants to delay his defamation lawsuit against Louis Freeh until the criminal case against Spanier and other former top university officials plays out.
An attorney for Spanier asked for a stay Monday in the pending civil case against Freeh, the former FBI director whose firm handled Penn State’s internal investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and implicated Spanier and others in a cover-up.
Elizabeth Ainslie, who represents Spanier, said her client would be prejudiced if the civil matter must proceed before the criminal case is resolved.
Ainslie argued that failure to grant a stay would “unnecessarily force multiple witnesses to choose between testifying in this action” or exercising their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, “thereby leading to an incomplete record and allowing the court to draw adverse inferences against Spanier.”
Freeh, on the other hand, would not be prejudiced by a delay, Ainslie wrote.
Spanier and former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz face trial on criminal charges including obstruction of justice and perjury. The state Attorney General’s Office has accused them of covering up Sandusky’s abuse and later lying to an investigating grand jury.
The charges were based in part on evidence that came out during Freeh’s investigation for Penn State, such as emails suggesting Spanier, Curley and Schultz discussed how to handle information about Sandusky.
Spanier labeled the findings false and defamatory and in July filed a notice of intent to sue Freeh and his firm, Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan.
The filing came a day before the one-year anniversary of the release of the Freeh report, and just in time to preserve Spanier’s right to sue under the statute of limitations.
The case has not moved forward since, and now Spanier is seeking to delay it until after his criminal trial, which Ainslie said won’t be before 2014.
Spanier is seeking monetary damages and is demanding a jury trial in the civil case.
Meanwhile, Spanier, Curley and Schultz are preparing for their criminal trial. The men maintain their innocence.