Spanier Files Defamation, Breach Of Contract Suit Against Louis Freeh And Penn State
Former university president Graham Spanier has filed a lawsuit against Louis Freeh and Penn State, alleging defamation and tortious interference by the former, and breach of contract by the latter. Virginia law firm Clare Locke, which is representing Spanier, announced the suit on Wednesday afternoon in a press release.
Spanier intends to argue that in publishing the Freeh Report, “Freeh and his law firm knowingly and maliciously published false and defamatory statements about him.” The statement adds that the report caused Spanier’s reputation significant harm and that the university compounded that harm by promoting the report. The crux of Spanier’s argument is that the report both ignored evidence and was essentially concluded before Freeh interviewed Spanier just days before its publication.
“Dr. Spanier’s complaint demonstrates that the Freeh Report was little more than a public relations product that expediently scapegoated a few individuals and was designed to knock the controversy out of the news as quickly as possible,” said Libby Locke, attorney for Spanier. “We intend to demonstrate in this suit that through misdirection and strategic omissions, the Freeh Report intentionally reached the false and defamatory conclusion that Dr. Spanier had knowledge of information and events that he did not.”
In the complaint, Spanier is asking for compensatory and punitive damages “for the reputational and economic harm caused by Freeh’s defamatory statements.” He is also suing the university for breach of contract, citing the university publicizing the Freeh Report, statements made by members of the Board of Trustees, and other breaches of his separation agreement.
Spanier is also alleging that Freeh Group International Solutions, Freeh’s consulting firm, committed tortious interference involving Spanier’s contracts for national security work with the federal government. The release said that Spanier is “optimistic” that the lawsuit will shine a light on Freeh’s business.
“In the case of Dr. Spanier, the Penn State Board of Trustees needed Freeh to assign blame for Sandusky’s behavior and to justify the hasty personnel decisions made in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal,” the release said. “The Freeh Report falsely blamed Dr. Spanier, other University officials, and Coach Joe Paterno in a misguided effort to enable the University to compartmentalize responsibility for Sandusky’s conduct and to bring closure to the scandal.”
Spanier has created a website, FreehReport.com, which intends to debunk the report and prove its inaccuracy. The website details Spanier’s law suit. On the main page of the site, it shows a copy of My FBI, a book written by Freeh. The hand-written inscription within reads, “To Graham, My warm wishes and appreciation for your leadership, vision and integrity. Penn State is very fortunate to have your energy and honor.”
In a report from ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., he says that both Penn State and Freeh did not provide comment on the law suit.