Penn State ex-president Spanier files libel lawsuit papers

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One year after several Penn State University administrators -- including its former president -- were accused of "callous and shocking disregard for child victims" in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal, Graham Spanier has filed notice he will sue the authors of the Freeh Report for slander and defamation.

The writ names Louis Freeh, his law firm of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP and Pepper Hamilton LLP, as defendants. The five-page notice was filed in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas Thursday. Mr. Spanier's attorney, Elizabeth Ainslie, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Spanier, 64, who was ousted as president in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, and his attorneys have been highly critical of the 267-page report since its release, accusing its authors of reaching conclusions not supported by facts.

They held a news conference in Philadelphia in August in which Mr. Spanier's attorneys spoke at length and issued an 18-page critique.

Mr. Freeh, the former FBI director, was hired by Penn State to do an independent investigation into what occurred over a period of more than 15 years in which Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, sexually abused children.

The review, which was based on more than 430 interviews and the review of 3.5 million emails and documents, concluded that Mr. Spanier, along with late football coach Joe Paterno, former athletic director Timothy Curley and former vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz enabled Sandusky's behavior to avoid bad publicity for the university.

In a written statement, Mr. Freeh said he would not comment on the potential lawsuit because of Mr. Spanier's pending charges.

"Over the past year, Penn State has made a dedicated effort to reform the problems that led to Mr. Sandusky's ability to victimize children on the university campus," Mr. Freeh said. "I trust that the changes and improvements that Penn State has put in place will help to build a constructive and protective environment where children will not again suffer abuse."

When Sandusky was arrested in 2011, Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz were both charged with failing to report abuse and lying to a grand jury. In November, the state attorney general's office filed additional counts against them, and named Mr. Spanier as a defendant, as well. He is charged with perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy.

A preliminary hearing on the charges against all three men is scheduled for July 29 in Harrisburg.

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Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. First Published July 11, 2013 5:45 PM


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