Almost a year to the day after an internal investigation implicated former Penn State President Graham Spanier in covering up accusations against Jerry Sandusky, Spanier has filed a praecipe for writ of summons against Louis Freeh, the leader of the investigation, potentially paving the way for a suit against Freeh for libel, defamation or slander.
The court papers, filed in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday, also name as defendants Freeh's former law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, and Pepper Hamilton, firms that merged together in August of last year after working together for months on the Penn State investigation. Freeh, a former FBI director, was hired by the Penn State board of trustees to lead an extensive probe into how the university handled allegations against Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator and convicted serial child molester at the center of the scandal.
Freeh's report incriminated Spanier along with two other administrators and Penn State's legendary former head football coach, Joe Paterno, who passed away last year. Spanier was not initially charged along with his former colleagues, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz. But just months after Freeh's report came out, a report in which Spanier was portrayed as having repeatedly concealed important information from authorities, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General indicted Spanier and brought more charges against Schultz and Curley. That was in November 2012.
At the time the Freeh report was released, on July 12, 2012, Spanier's attorneys emphatically dismissed its findings.
"Unfortunately, Judge Freeh's conclusion, repeated often during his press conference this morning, that Dr. Spanier was engaged in a course of 'active concealment,' is simply not supported by the facts or by the report itself," Spanier's attorneys said in the statement following the report's release. "Not only did Dr. Spanier never conceal anything from law enforcement authorities, but prior to 2011 he was never contacted by law enforcement officials, or any other officials, about any criminal activities now attributed to Sandusky. And as he told Judge Freeh himself last Friday and has steadfastly maintained, at no time in his 16 years as president of Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of any incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct, or criminality of any nature."
Elizabeth K. Ainslie of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis is representing Spanier in the proposed civil action, according to the writ of summons. Ainslie did not return a call requesting comment.
Freeh did not respond to a message left with his receptionist requesting comment.