Former PSU President Graham Spanier sues Louis Freeh for defamation
STATE COLLEGE, PA (WPMT) Former Penn State University President, Dr. Graham Spanier, filed a 140-page defamation complaint today against former FBI director Louis Freeh and his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, in the Court of Common Pleas in Centre County. The case centers on false and defamatory statements made in the “Freeh Report,” which was commissioned by Penn State University’s Board of Trustees in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
In the filing, Dr. Spanier alleges that Freeh and his law firm knowingly and maliciously published false and defamatory statements about him in the Freeh Report, causing significant damage to Dr. Spanier’s reputation – harm which was compounded by Freeh’s promotion of the report in a nationally televised press conference. The complaint alleges that Freeh recklessly disregarded evidence in the final report, including the results of a comprehensive federal investigation that vindicated Dr. Spanier. The complaint also alleges that the 267-page Freeh Report was virtually complete before Freeh ever interviewed Dr. Spanier, which occurred only four business days before the report was issued.
“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 Dr. 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 suit, Dr. Spanier seeks to reclaim his reputation and to establish Freeh’s liability for the substantial harm that Freeh and his law firm have caused. Dr. Spanier is asking a jury to award compensatory and punitive damages for the reputational and economic harm caused by Freeh’s defamatory statements.
Spanier’s complaint also brings claims for multiple breaches of contract by Penn State, including the University’s efforts to publicize the Freeh Report, disparaging statements about Dr. Spanier by certain members of the University’s Board of Trustees, and other breaches of Dr. Spanier’s separation agreement. The complaint also includes a count for tortious interference of business relations against Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC, Freeh’s consulting firm, for interfering with Dr. Spanier’s contracts to perform national security work for the federal government.
“We will show that the predetermined findings of the Freeh investigation were not supported by evidence or fact,” said Locke. “As a result, Dr. Spanier’s reputation was severely tarnished. He is filing this complaint today to prove that Freeh’s conclusions are false and defamatory and to restore the reputations of those who were falsely targeted by Freeh.”
Dr. Spanier is optimistic that this lawsuit also will shine a light on Freeh’s lucrative business model of purported “investigative reports” for his clients embroiled in controversy. 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 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.
To read the complaint click here.