Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Ex-PSU president Graham Spanier drops emails lawsuit against university

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier has dropped the lawsuit he filed against the university to get access to old emails involving his discussions about convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

Spanier did not specify the reason for dropping the suit, which seemed moot after the release last week of Louis Freeh’s scathing report that suggests Spanier and other senior university officials covered up allegations of abuse against Sandusky for fear of the fallout of bad publicity.

The paperwork saying it was being dropped was filed Wednesday in Centre County court.

Spanier filed the suit in May, seeking his emails from 1998 to 2004 and saying that he wanted to review them to prepare for an interview with Freeh’s investigators.

Penn State lawyers countered that giving Spanier the emails could compromise the state Attorney General’s Office ongoing investigation.

A court date had been set for August in front of an out-of-county judge, but it has been canceled.

Spanier went ahead with a Freeh interview without getting access to the emails on July 6, days before the report’s findings were released. Spanier’s attorneys criticized the Freeh report as inaccurate and said he looks forward to clearing his name.

Spanier was terminated as president in November and remains a tenured professor in the College of Health and Human Development. Penn State officials have declined to discuss his employment status, and there is a confidentiality clause in Spanier’s contract that applied while he was president and is in effect now.

Freeh’s investigation turned up emails from 1998 and 2001 that had been sent between Spanier and former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. In 2001, Spanier wrote in an email that it would “humane” to approach Sandusky rather than going to authorities.

The email appears to be referring to Sandusky being seen in a shower with a young boy. But Spanier wrote they could be vulnerable if it wasn’t reported.

Freeh faulted Spanier for not disclosing to the university’s board of trustees the allegations against Sandusky, including the grand jury investigation. Freeh said Spanier downplayed the grand jury probe, even when questioned by trustees why he, Curley, Schultz and former head football coach Joe Paterno testified to the grand jury.

The lawsuit was one of several the university was facing in the fallout of the Sandusky abuse scandal.

The university wants to settle out of court with the victims in the Sandusky case. Meanwhile, three people not connected to the original case have filed civil suits in Philadelphia.

Still looming is a possible whistleblower lawsuit by former wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, who made the report in 2001 about seeing Sandusky in a shower with a young boy.

McQueary has only given notice he intends to sue and has yet to file a formal complaint.

McQueary’s attorney, Elliot Strokoff, of Harrisburg, hasn’t been reachable for comment.

At the university’s board of trustees meeting last week, trustee Ira Lubert said the university thinks McQueary’s lawsuit lacks legal merit. Late last week, a lawyer named Nancy Conrad filed notice with the county that she’s also representing Penn State in the McQueary suit.

Sandusky was convicted last month and awaits sentencing.

Schultz and Curley are charged with perjury and failing to report the 2001 incident to authorities. They’re set for a court hearing in August in Harrisburg.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT

Related stories from Centre Daily Times