Court to consider Penn State request to keep e-mails between Ron Tomalis and Louis Freeh secret

Published September 8, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Penn State will ask a state appellate court Wednesday to stop the Department of Education from releasing about 150 pages of e-mails between former secretary of education Ron Tomalis and investigators working for Louis Freeh.

Penn State alumnus Ryan Bagwell sought the information in July 2013 through a Right-to-Know Law request on behalf of the Penn State Sunshine Fund.

The university argues the records constitute privileged communications between Freeh and Tomalis, who sat on Penn State’s Board of Trustees while serving as secretary of education. Bagwell argues that Penn State waived the privilege when it allowed Freeh to share information about his investigation with prosecutors, the NCAA and the public.

This is the second case to reach the Commonwealth Court involving records sent to the secretary of education in his capacity as a Penn State trustee. The first, decided in July last year, allowed the public to obtain records of state officials who serve on the boards of state-related universities.

The case could have an impact on other lawsuits that seek records of Freeh’s investigation. It may also impact the way courts treat privileged information that has been selectively shared with third parties.

Click here for legal filings in the case.

WHAT:     Oral arguments in Bagwell v. Dept. of Education and The Pennsylvania State University.

WHERE:  Pennsylvania Judicial Center Courtroom 5001, 600 Commonwealth Ave., Harrisburg, Pa. 17120

WHEN:     Wednesday, Sept. 10, 9:30 a.m.


The Penn State Sunshine Fund is a grassroots effort that was formed in October 2013 to help pay for legal expenses related to obtaining public records about university activities. So far, 275 supporters from 194 cities in 31 states have contributed $38,000 dollars toward its $50,000 goal.

The fund has obtained and published more than 1,500 pages of records. Some of the information revealed:

  • As a Penn State trustee, Gov. Corbett helped former Pa. Attorney General Linda Kelly coordinate with Penn State’s Special Investigations Task Force.
  • Penn State chose Louis Freeh to lead its investigation over former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.
  • The Board of Trustees executive committee discussed the Freeh Report less than a month before it was released.

Click here to view records obtained to date.

For more information, contact:

Ryan Bagwell
Penn State Sunshine Fund

Joshua Bonn
Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall

  • Chris Morris

    Still mind-boggling that PSU would fight ANY of this. Shameless.