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Judge Considers Delay in Spanier's Defamation Suit Against Freeh

by and on January 08, 2014 7:15 AM

No ruling was made Tuesday after Centre County Judge Jonathan Grine heard arguments on whether to delay the defamation lawsuit filed by former Penn State President Graham Spanier against former FBI director Louis Freeh.

Freeh was not present for the hearing.

A decision on the matter could take months. Court was adjourned after an hour of oral arguments.

Spanier, who was present for the hearing, requested through attorney Elizabeth Ainslie back in October for the lawsuit to be put on hold while he fights criminal charges. He is charged with failure to report suspected abuse and lying before a grand jury abut what he knew about early allegations against convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

Ainslie argued there would be significant overlap of the two cases, causing a need for a stay of the civil one against Freeh. It will also be difficult to get depositions from witnesses who will testify for the prosecution in the criminal case because of the looming trial.

"The conflict is real," Ainslie said. "There's a time and a place for everything. This is not the time to be moving forward with this civil case."

Freeh's legal team wants Spanier to file a formal complaint outlining his allegations before the civil case is paused. At this point, Spanier has only let Freeh know of his intent to sue. Freeh's firm conducted an internal investigation of Penn State's handling of the Sandusky allegations and concluded top administrators, including Spanier, were involved in a cover-up. Spanier claims he was defamed in the report.

Because a complaint was not filed, Freeh's attorney Robert Heim argued it is nearly impossible for him to proceed with the case. Heim said Freeh does not know the specific defaming statements -- where they were spoken or how many times.

Ainslie responded that she and Spanier wrote a critique of the Freeh report a month after it was released that highlights the defamatory statements. Heim argued there is a significant difference between a critique and a formal complaint, the latter being necessary for the case to be delayed.

"Dr. Spanier has to come forward with a verified complaint, not from counsel, but from Spanier, that says Mr. Freeh committed a knowing falsehood," Heim said, adding that a delay could jeopardize Freeh's reputation "And he has to say that on the record."



This post was originally published by the staff at Onward State. Follow Onward State on Twitter @OnwardState


Kevin Horne is the Managing Editor of Onward State and frequent contributor to StateCollege.com. He is also a Penn State senior, majoring in journalism and political science.
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