Former Penn State President Files Last Minute Libel Suit

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On Tuesday, July 9, 2013, former Penn State president Graham Spanier filed suit against Louis Freeh. Freeh is the former FBI investigator behind a 267-page report  alleging that Spanier and other school administrators failed to protect children against Jerry Sandusky.  Spanier is suing Freeh for slander, libel, and defamation alleging  that the Freeh report makes accusations and reaches conclusions not supported by facts.

Fortunately for Spanier, his lawsuit was filed one day before the statute of limitations ran. Under Pennsylvania law, a party can only bring a defamation action within one year from the alleged defamatory statements. Spanier filed his five-page notice of suit a day before the one year anniversary of the Freeh Report. In addition to Freeh, Spanier named Freeh’s law firm of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP and Pepper Hamilton LLP as defendants.

In the wake of the 2011 Sandusky scandal, Spanier was ousted from Penn State for not taking appropriate action to stop Sandusky’s behavior. The Freeh Report, based on more than 430 interviews and 3.5 million emails and documents, concluded that Spanier enabled Sandusky’s behavior to avoid bad publicity for the university.

Although Spanier is taking legal action to protect his namesake, other problems (3) still linger for the former president. In November 2012, the Pennsylvania attorney general charged Spanier with perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction, and conspiracy. The same day that Spanier filed his defamation suit, preliminary hearings were scheduled for Spanier’s criminal charges on July 29, 2013. The hearings will determine if there are grounds to forward Spanier’s criminal charges to county court for trial.

Despite the criminal battle facing Spanier, his defamation suit will try to protect his reputation, and prove that the Freeh Report wrongfully made false allegations about his conduct.

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