Judge: Freeh lost and won arguments in former Penn State University President Graham Spanier lawsuit

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 12: Federal Judge Louis B. Freeh speaks with the media during a news conference July 12, 2012 at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Freeh released his report of the investigation into the facts and circumstances of the actions of The Pennsylvania State University surrounding the child abuse committed by a former employee, Gerald A. Sandusky. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

The Daily Collegian is reporting that former FBI Director Louis Freeh lost several of his arguments in a lawsuit brought against him by former Penn State University President Graham Spanier. Freeh also won several others, according to court documents.

Spanier filed a lawsuit against Freeh in February 2016. Freeh was hired by Penn State to investigate the accountability of the university in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, the Daily Collegian reported. He released his findings in the Freeh Report on July 12, 2012.

Spanier argued in his lawsuit that Freeh’s report was defamation of character and intentional interference, which damaged Spanier’s business relationships, according to court documents. Judge Robert Eby, however, decided that some of the 23 statements in question are “incapable of defamatory character,” and in court documents, he details which of Freeh’s objections he said were able to be proven as either false or factual, as compared to the arguments based solely on opinion, which were dropped from the lawsuit, The Daily Collegian reported.

Statements Eby said that were potentially defamatory:

“Dr. Spanier failed to act against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”

“Despite their knowledge of the criminal investigation of Sandusky [in 1998], Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley took no action to limit Sandusky’s access to Penn State facilities or took any measures to protect children on their campuses,” according to court documents. “The most powerful men at Penn state failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

Spanier has 20 days from Sept. 27 to file an amended complaint, court documents show.

Among the statements the court reviewed:

    1. Dr. Spanier exhibited “total and consistent disregard…for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”
    2. Dr. Spanier “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
    3. Dr. Spanier “concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities.”
    4. Dr. Spanier “exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sanduksy’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch building in 2001.”
    5. Dr. Spanier “empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access to the University’s facilities and affiliation with the University’s prominent football program.”
    6. “[I]n order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the University — Spanier, Schultz, Paterno, and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the University’s Board of Trustees, the Penn State community , and the public at large. The avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity is the most significant, but not the only, cause for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities.”
    7. “Dr. Spanier “fail[ed]…to adequately report and respond to the actions of a serial sexual predator.”
    8. “The investigation also revealed: A striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most senior leaders at the University.”
    9. “Dr. Spanier made “[a] decision…to allow Sandusky to retire in 1999, not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy…essentially granting him a license to bring boys to campus facilities for ‘grooming’ as targets for his assaults.”
    10. “Despite their knowledge of the criminal investigation of Sandusky [in 1988], Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley took no action to limit Sandusky’s access to Penn State facilities or took any measure to protect children on their campuses.”
    11. “The investigation also revealed: …[a] president who discouraged discussion and dissent.”
    12.  After the February 2001 incident, Sandusky engaged in improper conduct with at least two children in the Lasch Building. Those assaults may well have been prevented if Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley had taken additional actions to safeguard children on University facilities.”

Court document are here.

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