Pennsylvania court decides not to speed up Penn State lawsuit

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HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania appeals court has turned down a request by former FBI director Louis Freeh to force Penn State University’s onetime president to proceed with a civil claim he initiated last year.

Superior Court said it did not have jurisdiction to reverse a county judge’s decision allowing Graham Spanier to keep the matter on hold while his criminal case is still pending.

Mr. Freeh and his law firm produced a 2012 report for Penn State that was severely critical of how Mr. Spanier and other top administrators handled the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. Mr. Spanier’s court filing in Centre County last year said he was planning to sue for defamation, but he has not produced a written complaint that details his allegations.

In February, the judge overseeing the matter agreed the case can wait, saying that otherwise Mr. Spanier may have to decide whether to testify in his civil case and possibly harm his criminal defense.

“Plaintiff may be at risk of exposing himself to criminal liability by proceeding,” Judge Jonathan Grine wrote at that time. “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. Spanier is awaiting trial on charges he and two other administrators engaged in a criminal cover-up of complaints about Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.

Messages seeking comment from lawyers for Mr. Freeh and Mr. Spanier were not returned.

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