Former Pennsylvania State University President Graham Spanier filed notice of plans to sue Louis Freeh, the former FBI director whose university-commissioned probe placed Spanier at the center of a cover-up of ex-football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse.
The claims in the planned complaint relate to slander, libel or defamation, according to a box checked on a cover sheet for the five-page notice, which was filed yesterday in state court in Bellefonte. Freeh declined to comment on the notice, citing “pending felony charges” against Spanier.
“Over the past year, Penn State has made a dedicated effort to reform the problems that led to Mr. Sandusky’s ability to victimize children on the university campus,” Freeh said in an e-mailed statement. “I trust the changes and improvements that Penn State has put in place will help to build a constructive and protective environment where children will not again suffer abuse.”
Freeh concluded in his report a year ago that Spanier, former head football coach Joe Paterno, and two other senior school officials hid critical facts surrounding Sandusky’s abuse. Spanier and Paterno were fired in November 2011. Paterno died in January 2012.
Sandusky is serving a minimum 30-year sentence for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. The former assistant football coach, who was convicted by a jury in June 2012 on 45 criminal counts, committed some of his crimes in campus buildings and while he was employed by the school.
Spanier was charged in November with five counts including endangering the welfare of a child in connection with a 2001 sex abuse allegation against Sandusky. Timothy Curley, a former Penn State athletic director, and Gary Schultz, an ex-vice president in charge of university police, were also charged with additional crimes that month. Both men had previously been charged with perjury in connection with the 2001 incident.
Freeh’s report, released after a seven-month investigation, found that red flags involving Sandusky were numerous and that Spanier and others ignored them in order to avoid bad publicity.
Attorneys for Spanier have called the findings a “flat-out distortion of facts” infused with bias and innuendo.
A state court judge has scheduled a preliminary hearing for Spanier, Curley and Schultz beginning July 29 to determine whether there’s enough evidence to hold them for trial. All three are out on bail.
The case is Spanier v. Freeh, 2013-2707, Court of Common Pleas of Centre County (Bellefonte).
–Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha