Best offense: Spanier should focus on his criminal defense

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Maybe former Penn State president Graham Spanier should ask to have his court date on perjury and other charges moved up. That would be the best venue for defending himself.

Mr. Spanier, 64, who was forced out as president in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, went on offense instead last week, filing a notice indicating his intention to sue the authors of a damning, 267-page report that was highly critical of him and other senior executives.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by Penn State to probe the university's response to Sandusky's actions, said that Mr. Spanier, the late football coach Joe Paterno and two other administrators put the school's reputation above the welfare of children. Mr. Spanier claims the report slandered and defamed him.

Mr. Spanier's threat to sue wasn't his first attack on Mr. Freeh and his work. In August 2012, a month after it was released, Mr. Spanier told interviewers the report was "absolutely unfounded, unfair and just plain wrong," and his lawyers held a news conference and issued an 18-page critique.

Two months later, though, Mr. Spanier was criminally charged, accused of perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy in the aftermath of Sandusky's assaults on children. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 29.

The criminal court proceedings, rather than his civil claims of defamation, are where Mr. Spanier should put his legal efforts. If he's successful and is cleared of wrongdoing, that would be the best way to erase any taint on his reputation.

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