STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge Tuesday granted former Penn State University president Graham Spanier’s request to put on hold his defamation civil lawsuit against former FBI director Louis Freeh and Mr. Freeh’s law firm.
Judge Jonathan Grine issued a stay in the case, citing as a factor the criminal charges that Mr. Spanier faces for an alleged cover-up of complaints about retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was later convicted of child sexual abuse in 2012.
Judge Grine said Mr. Spanier would otherwise be faced with a decision about whether to testify in the civil case and potentially jeopardize his criminal defense.
“Plaintiff may be at risk of exposing himself to criminal liability by proceeding,” Judge Grine wrote. “Conversely, should plaintiff choose to refrain from testifying, from including certain allegations in his complaint, or from presenting certain evidence in his pursuit of the civil case, an underdeveloped and incomplete record may result.”
Mr. Freeh produced a report on the Sandusky matter for Penn State in 2012 that was highly critical of Mr. Spanier, former head coach Joe Paterno and former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.
Mr. Freeh had opposed the delay request, and his lawyers argued last month that he wants to defend himself against criticism.
Mr. Spanier has filed paperwork initiating the lawsuit but not a complaint that details his claims.
Spanier, Curley and Schultz await trial in county court in Harrisburg on charges of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, failure to properly report suspected abuse and endangering the welfare of children. A trial date has not been set.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence.