Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier filed through his attorneys Monday documents requesting the courts overrule Penn State’s objections to granting Spanier access to emails regarding how he and other administrators handled incidents involving Jerry Sandusky.
Spanier filed in May to force the university to release emails that had been obtained in the internal investigation by Judge Louis Freeh. Penn State filed back in mid-June requesting the courts to dismiss Spanier’s complaint, saying that it is under order from the State Attorney General not to turn over the emails.
The emails contained information about Spanier's knowledge of a 2001 incident involving Sandusky and a boy in the showers of the Lasch Football Building. In the emails, Spanier is quoted as saying it would be "humane" to Sandusky not to report the incident.
Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coach, was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse.
In the filing, Spanier and his attorneys write that the university has no legal obligation to obey the directive of the Attorney General, and that the university is “complying with a mere request” from the Attorney General.
“Dr. Spanier’s request for the subject emails is not merely an attack on the directive,” Spanier’s attorneys wrote. “But at its core, [it is] a complaint against the University for choosing not to turn over the emails to Dr. Spanier.”
According to court documents, Penn State wrote that Spanier’s lawsuit should be directed at the Attorney General, not the university. The university's filing says that Spanier is circumventing Right To Know Law procedure by asking the university for emails that are actually in possession of the Office of the Attorney General.
Spanier and his attorney’s wrote that the Right To Know Law, which governs the public’s right to access data from the Commonwealth, in this case is not applicable. Spanier and his attorneys wrote that the university never says why the Right To Know Law is applicable and “glosses over the required premise of its argument.”
The university also contends that Spanier cannot sue because the emails in question are not his personal property. Spanier and his attorney’s wrote that that argument is invalid because nowhere is it stated by the university that employees lack ownership over their own emails.
The court document also states that the Attorney General’s reasoning for making the request to not allow Spanier to access his emails no longer makes sense. The Attorney General said allowing Spanier to access the emails would obstruct the investigation, according to court documents.
Spanier and his attorneys wrote that because recent media reports have released snippets of these emails citing law enforcement officials, then releasing the emails back to Spaner would be no different.
“If ‘law enforcement sources,’ believe it is appropriate to release selected snippets of Dr. Spanier’s emails to the media, then they cannot sincerely claim, at the same time, that allowing Dr. Spanier to read the emails would constitute any sore of obstruction of the investigation,” Spanier and his attorneys wrote.