The latest battle in the defamation lawsuit ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier is planning to pursue against Louis Freeh continues to revolve around where the case ultimately should be heard.
An attorney for Spanier filed a motion Friday in federal court asking that a potential civil case be remanded back to Centre County.
Freeh successfully argued last month that any case that proceeds should be moved to federal court, arguing that is the proper venue because he is not a Pennsylvania resident and the damages sought exceed a certain threshold.
Spanier contends in his latest filing that the move to federal court was “defective and improper” because to date he has only filed a notice of intent to sue.
His 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.
Freeh’s firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, which was hired by Penn State to conduct the internal review, is also named a defendant in the lawsuit.
In the latest filing, an attorney for the former president said Freeh “knowingly and maliciously published false and defamatory statements” that Spanier acted with disregard for Sandusky’s victims and hid abuse from authorities and the board of trustees. They went on to say Spanier was criminally charged as a direct result of the “false and malicious report.”
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.
Spanier has won a stay in the civil suit while the criminal charges against him play out in Dauphin County Court.
Freeh has lost appeals to have the case kick-started. His attorneys argued in those appeals that Spanier should have to make public his allegations before asking for a stay.
Freeh sought to have the case moved to federal court because he said it was unclear when his one-year window to do so would close, due to Spanier having filed only the notice of intent to sue.