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Graham Spanier Responds to Penn State's Objections Over His Lawsuit, Asks Court to Overrule

by on July 05, 2012 6:00 AM

Less than three weeks after attorneys for Penn State requested the court dismiss former president Graham Spanier's complaint in its entirety, Spanier has fired back.

The university's former top administrator wants the court to instead overrule Penn State's objections "in their entirety."

Attorneys representing Spanier filed documents Monday requesting an overruling of the university's request and asked that the court grant to Spanier "such other and further relief as is just and proper under the circumstances."

The initial filing that prompted the subsequent documents was done by Spanier on May 25 in an effort to have emails turned over that are now a part of the Louis Freeh investigation.

That was so Spanier could "refresh his memory" were he to be questioned by law enforcement officials regarding his handling of incidents involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who recently was found guilty on 45 of 48 charges related to child sex abuse.

Some of the emails date as far back as 1996 and according to the documents: "Dr. Spanier has every right to review his own decade-old emails so that he can be adequately informed before speaking to investigators about topics addressed in those emails."

Penn State said in its rebuttal June 14 that Spanier failed to "exhaust the right-to-know law," and his request for the emails is "at its core, an attack on the directive on the Office of the Attorney General not to disclose the emails it has obtained as a result of the investigation."

Penn State stated in its 70-page document that it has a "legal obligation" to cooperate with the Attorney General's Office.

In fact, Penn State said Spanier's complaint shouldn't even be directed at the university.

The emails allegedly are on Penn State servers, so they are university property, not Spanier's, Penn State said.

In the 26-page document filed this week, Spanier said he is correct in directing his complaint at Penn State, not at the Attorney General's Office, and "the university lacks merit" in its attempt to deflect the filing.

Spanier asserted that the university has not been "interposed" between the Attorney General's Office and Spanier.

"The university is under no compulsion to comply with the Attorney General's requests," the document reads. It says the right-to-know argument made by Penn State is invalid.

The documents also deny Spanier's emails are university property, because "not one of the authorities cited by the university holds that employees lack ownership rights over emails that they author and receive."

Meanwhile, speculation has swirled around an alleged cover-up and leaked emails CNN obtained as the release date of the Freeh report approaches, though the exact date is unknown.

CNN reported last week that more than two weeks after former assistant coach Mike McQueary walked in on Sandusky in a shower with a boy in the Lasch Football Building in 2001, three top Penn State administrators reportedly exchanged a series of emails about whether to contact The Second Mile or the state Department of Welfare.

In the report, CNN said former athletic director Tim Curley referenced a conversation with Spanier. Curley wanted to talk with Sandusky before taking any action, according to the emails.

An email from Curley also indicated he had talked with former football coach Joe Paterno about the situation.

As of May 4, the investigation led by former FBI director Freeh conducted at least 400 interviews with individuals affiliated with Penn State. The investigation is looking to uncover any potential wrongdoing that may have led to a child predator roaming free on campus.

Freeh and his team are expected to publish the report, which will be available publicly, by the beginning of the fall semester, though there have been reports it could be released later this month.

The Penn State Board of Trustees terminated Spanier's contract Nov. 9, along with Paterno, who died Jan. 22 from complications of lung cancer.

Related coverage:

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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