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Spanier Sues Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Asks Federal Court to Stop Criminal Case

by on March 31, 2014 2:32 PM

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday that asks a judge to put a stop to the criminal charges leveled against him by the Attorney General's office.

The suit asks the court to halt the criminal prosecution of several charges related to an alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse by convicted pedophile and former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Spanier's criminal defense attorney, Elizabeth Ainslie, filed the suit against Attorney General Kathleen Kane in U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania.

Spanier and two other former Penn State administrators face several criminal charges including perjury, failing to report child endangerment and conspiracy related to the alleged Sandusky cover up.

At issue is the controversial role former Penn State General Counsel Cynthia Baldwin played in the grand jury proceedings for the Sandusky scandal.

Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, and retired Senior Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz say they thought Baldwin was their personal attorney. They believe her testimony before the grand jury violated attorney-client privilege therefore criminal charges should be dismissed and their grand jury testimonies suppressed from any criminal trial.

Defense attorneys have made motions in Dauphin County Court to have the charges thrown out. In a similar effort, Spanier's attorney filed the suit Monday, which argues the Attorney General's office "violated and continues to violate (Spanier's) constitutional right to due process of law."

The suit specifically targets the tactics of former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, who was lead prosecutor in the grand jury investigation, saying Fina used dishonesty to obtain Spanier's testimony. Ainslie makes that argument by saying that Fina allowed Spanier to testify before the grand jury after Baldwin said she represented Penn State as an institution, not Spanier individually.

"Fina thus deliberately obtained uncounselled testimony from Spanier," the suit states. "The perjury charge that Fina based on that testimony is thus based on Fina's deception, both of Spanier and of the supervising grand jury judge, and on Fina's blatant violation of Spanier's attorney-client privilege. The infected perjury charge being the linchpin of all of the charges that Fina brought against Spanier, all of the charges are likewise infected by Fina's bad faith."

Ainslie argues the Attorney General's office violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

J.J. Abbott, spokesman for the Attorney General's office, told StateCollege.com that the office has received Spanier's complaint and prosecutors are reviewing it.

Prosecutors have argued through legal documents that Baldwin's testimony was not part of the evidence used to establish probable cause during the defendants' preliminary hearing therefore the prosecution has a legitimate case.

The prosecution also says the defendants' claim that Baldwin had a conflict of interest by representing both the defendants and Penn State is wrong. Instead, they say the defendants and Penn State shared interests.

Additionally, the Attorney General's office argues that any advice Baldwin provided the defendants would not have changed the outcome of the grand jury investigation. And if the defendants assumed Baldwin represented them individually, the agency says the claim of an attorney-client privilege violation still does not exist due to a crime-fraud exception.

Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover is presiding over the case for Spanier, Curley and Schultz. The criminal proceeding is taking place in Dauphin County because that is where the grand jury met and where the charge of perjury allegedly occurred.

All defendants have pleaded not guilty.

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

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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