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Freeh Asks For Judgment In Spanier Lawsuit

by Geoff Rushton

Louis Freeh filed a motion in Centre County Court on Thursday asking for a judgment to bring an end to Graham Spanier’s lawsuit against him.

The motion asks specially-presiding judge Robert Eby to enter a judgment in Freeh’s favor and against Spanier, who initiated a lawsuit for defamation and tortious interference against the former FBI director and judge in 2015.

Spanier has alleged that Freeh maliciously published false statements about him in Freeh’s report on his university-commissioned investigation of the circumstances surrounding the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Spanier had claimed Freeh’s action caused a government agency to end its “current and prospective business relationship” with him, but Eby tossed the tortious interference claim last fall saying it was past the statute of limitations and inadequately pled.

Earlier this year, Eby winnowed to 11 the number of potentially defamatory statements related to the handling by Spanier and others of reports about Sandusky. He ordered Spanier to file a trimmed amended complaint, which Spanier filed in March.

But Freeh says Spanier’s criminal conviction renders all of it moot. Spanier was convicted on March 24 on one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was acquitted on felony charges of child endangerment and conspiracy. Former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz pleaded guilty to child endangerment ahead of the trial.

All three were charged for their handling of former assistant coach Mike McQueary’s 2001 report about Sandusky with a boy in a locker room shower.

“That conviction required the jury to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Spanier endangered the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support,” Freeh’s attorneys Robert Heim and Michael Kichline wrote.

They added that in a subsequent filing in the lawsuit Spanier admitted he did not report or follow up McQueary’s report.

“There is no way Plaintiff can maintain the falsity of the statements he claims are defamatory, which is an essential element of his claim, in light of such a conviction and such admissions,” they wrote.

Spanier is appealing his conviction on grounds that the charge of child endangerment was barred by the statute of limitations and that prosecutors provided no evidence that he had a legally-defined duty of care for children abused by Sandusky. He also contended that the trial judge erred in reinstating a conspiracy charge that was dismissed by Pennsylvania Superior Court and gave incomplete instructions to the jury.

Spanier was sentenced to two months in Centre County Correctional Facility followed by at least two months house arrest, but will not be required to report until resolution of his appeal. Curley and Schultz reported to the county jail on Saturday to begin serving their sentences. Curley will serve three months followed by at least four months of house arrest, while Schultz will serve two months followed by at least four months house arrest.

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