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Louis Freeh gets expedited appeal to Graham Spanier suit

| Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 9:54 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE — Former FBI Director Louis Freeh will make his case next month before the state Superior Court that the defamation case against him shouldn't be delayed while ex-Penn State President Graham Spanier fights his own legal battles.

The Superior Court has ruled it will expedite Freeh's appeal of the case being paused, and the justices will hear arguments May 20 in Philadelphia.

Spanier has sought to have the suit put on hold while he awaits criminal trial in Dauphin County.

Centre County Judge Jonathan D. Grine granted a stay in the case this year and later rejected a request by Freeh to reconsider. Attorneys for Freeh appealed the decision to the higher court last month.

Spanier has until April 22 to file written arguments, and Freeh has until May 6. Spanier can respond to Freeh's brief by May 12, according to the timeline established by the Superior Court.

Spanier's lawyers have yet to file a formal complaint outlining the allegations of defamation against Freeh, whose report in summer 2012 labeled the former president part of a conspiracy to hide abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach and convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

Instead, they filed a notice that Spanier intends to sue and, by doing so, he preserved the right to sue without the statute of limitations expiring.

Freeh's lawyers repeatedly have said Spanier cannot ask for a stay without first making public the allegations. They have said Freeh wants to clear his name of the accusation implied by Spanier's lawsuit.

The criminal case against Spanier could take years, and Freeh's attorneys said they want to ask that the case be moved to federal court, but there is a one-year deadline for that request and it might expire while waiting for Spanier's criminal case to play out.

Spanier and former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are charged with perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to report abuse stemming from the Sandusky scandal. Their lawyers have maintained that their clients are innocent and have asked the judge presiding over the case to dismiss all the charges.

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