Graham Spanier and Louis Freeh got to take shots in court documents filed Friday.
Spanier, the former Penn State president, is suing the author of the Freeh report and his law firm, Freeh, Sporkin and Sullivan, for defamation in connection with the allegations put forth in the university-commissioned investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Lebanon County Senior Judge Robert Eby was appointed to hear the case after Centre County Judge Jonathan Grine recused himself in April. On June 30, Eby ordered the two sides to submit summaries of the case to date.
Both camps started back at the beginning, with Spanier’s first filing in July 2013, then followed the twisting path of two years, including 42 Centre County docket entries, 46 separate filings in two different cases in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, another case in state Superior Court and one more in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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Freeh’s attorneys said they “are considering filing a motion to strike to compel Spanier to file a new complaint setting forth the gravamen of this alleged defamation without the lengthy and gratuitous public relations spin.”
Spanier’s attorneys asked Eby to grant the plaintiff’s two most recent motions, to modify the stay that was put in place more than a year ago and to allow two more defendants, Penn State and Freeh Group International Solutions, to be added. The Freeh camp opposed both.
The stay was originally put in place because of the still-pending criminal case in Dauphin County where Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz face charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction, endangerment and failure to report in connection with Sandusky.
Spanier’s filing said Grine stayed the case, assuming the criminal trials would conclude in 2014, but there is still no end in sight.
“Plaintiff argues that because of the unanticipated delay in the resolution of the criminal cases, and because Dr. Spanier has stated that he will not take the Fifth Amendment in this action, the court should lift the stay in order to allow this action to proceed,” Spanier’s filing stated, adding that a partial stay should remain in play to protect third-party witnesses who might bring up Fifth Amendment concerns.
Freeh’s people countered with the idea that Spanier would “impose lopsided rules on discovery.”
Freeh also opposed the addition of Penn State and FGIS, claiming it would prejudice the former FBI director and his law firm.
Spanier’s documents, however, insisted the inclusion, rather than a separate case, was appropriate because the claims involved “the same series of occurrences as the claims against (d)efendants Freeh and FSS ... and involve common questions of law,” and should proceed together for the sake of “judicial economy.”
Both sides also requested that Eby file a scheduling order in the case.