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Graham Spanier back in court over Freeh report

Lawyers for former Penn State President Graham Spanier and Louis Freeh were in court Wednesday for a hearing over the defamation lawsuit Spanier is filing in response to the Freeh report.

The report on the Sandusky scandal at Penn State was released in the summer of 2012.

The next summer, Spanier initiated his lawsuit against Freeh but argued the case should not move forward until the criminal case has been resolved. Spanier as well as Tim Curley and Gary Schultz face criminal charges for their role in allegedly covering up Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.

A Centre County judge agreed with Spanier earlier this year to keep the defamation case on hold. However, lawyers for Freeh appealed that decision to the Pa. Superior Court, saying that Spanier should have to file a complaint detailing his allegations against Freeh.

“We are all caught up in something that is fairly unprecedented. And, the judges are doing the very best they can to cope with it,” said Elizabeth Ainslie, attorney for Spanier. Though Spanier attended Wednesday’s hearing, he declined to comment.

Ainslie has argued moving forward with the defamation case could incriminate Dr. Spanier in his criminal case. A Dauphin County judge is weighing a motion to have the charges against Spanier, Curley and Schultz dismissed. It’s unclear when, or if, the three will be tried.

“Obviously, I am hoping that the entire matter will be dismissed, and that Dr. Spanier will be vindicated and can then go forward with his defamation case against Mr. Freeh,” said Ainslie.

During the hearing, Michael Kichline, attorney for Freeh, said, “Filing the complaint will not prejudice Dr. Spanier.” He went on to say he does not believe that will expose Spanier to liability, nor will it jeopardize witnesses.

Kichline also said the case could end up in federal court. Following the hearing he said, “I think what I’ll say at this point is our arguments speak for themselves. And, beyond that I’m not going to comment further.”

Penn State Trustee Anthony Lubrano attended the hearing. Afterward he called it “interesting.” When asked to elaborate, he said, “It’s rather ironic that Judge Freeh’s arguing that his reputation is being harmed as a result of a stay.”

The three judges on the Superior Court panel did not indicate when they would issue an opinion.