Judge Denies NCAA Motion to Interview Curley
The judge overseeing the lawsuit by the estate of Joe Paterno against the NCAA has denied the NCAA's motion to get a deposition from former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley.
Potter County Senior Judge John Leete, who is specially presiding in the case, disagreed with the NCAA's rationale for getting the deposition nearly a year after the discovery deadline in the case. He did grant requests to file the motion for leave and the Paterno response under seal.
The NCAA had asked that the motion for leave for deposition be filed under seal because it makes references to information and contains an exhibit that have been designated "highly confidential," in an earlier protective order issued in the case.
Curley had previously asserted Fifth Amendment rights in depositions for civil lawsuits related to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. But after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of children for his role in the handling of a report about Sandusky, he testified last month for the prosecution in the trial of former Penn State President Graham Spanier, who was found guilty on one misdemeanor count of child endangerment and acquitted on two felony charges.
The NCAA likely wanted to question Curley about the specifics of any conversations he had with Paterno about allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001. But at Spanier's trial, Curley could recall no details about what he and Paterno may have discussed.
The Paterno estate, along with former assistant coaches Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are suing the NCAA, its president Mark Emmert and former executive committee chair Ed Ray in Centre County Court. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, claims commercial disparagement, defamation, tortious interference and conspiracy, citing the use of the Louis Freeh report commissioned by Penn State in the NCAA’s consent decree for sanctions with Penn State related to the school's handling of reports of child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky.
In his order denying the NCAA motion, Leete said that in the news reports from the Spanier trial provided by the Paterno estate, "Mr. Curley seemed to lack both recollection and details about conversations with Joe Paterno and others about Sandusky's sexual activities with minors on campus... Thus, defendants are speculating as to what Mr. Curley might say, and seem to hope his recollection will improve from the time of the Spanier trial."
Leete also wrote that while the NCAA argued Curley's guilty plea ended his Fifth Amendment protection, he has yet to be sentenced and the final status of his plea is still to be determined.
The judge concluded that the NCAA had failed to show appropriate cause to reopen discovery.