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Judge Rules in Spanier's Favor, Okays Delay in Freeh Lawsuit

by on February 25, 2014 5:00 PM

The civil lawsuit former Penn State president Graham Spanier filed against Louis Freeh last October won't be going anywhere for now.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Centre County Judge Jonathan Grine agreed with Spanier's argument that the lawsuit should wait until Spanier's criminal case is settled.

Spanier claims he was defamed in the Freeh Report which found that senior Penn State administrators intentionally covered up Jerry Sandusky's child abuse.

In his report Freeh says that Spanier and others, "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities [PSU's] Board of Trustees, the Penn State community and the public at large."

Spanier's attorneys claim those allegations are both false and defamatory. They are asking for monetary damages. After filling the lawsuit against Freeh, Spanier asked the court to delay the proceedings until after his criminal case is completed.

Lawyers representing Freeh have argued that Spanier must explain details of his case, so that Freeh can defend himself. In a filing last November, Freeh's legal team says, "Spanier has succeeded in garnering headlines for suing Judge Freeh without having to provide any substantiation. ... Spanier bears the heavy burden of demonstrating why a stay is necessary -- and he has failed to meet that burden in every respect."

Spanier is facing trial on a number of charges including endangering the welfare of children, perjury, obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy and failure to report sexual assault. Former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz are also charged with the same offenses.

The trio is facing trial in Dauphin County although a trial date has not been set. All three men say they're innocent and vow to vigorously fight the charges in court.

Judge Grine ruled, "There is a substantial risk that ... any or all of these individuals could invoke their Fifth Amendment rights during the civil action and refuse to participate in the discovery process."

The judge also notes that anything Spanier says during a civil trial could be used against him in the criminal case.

Furthermore, the judge believes that "resolution of the criminal action may eliminate the necessity of litigating certain issues in the civil case."

Sandusky is serving 30-60 years in prison for 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

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Steve Bauer is Managing Editor & Chief Content Officer at StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy. You can e-mail Steve at Steve.Bauer@StateCollege.com and you can follow him on Twitter @SteveBauerSCcom
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