Peel's wife sues The Record

by Steve Gonzalez |
Sep. 12, 2006, 2:34pm

Gary Peel

Former Effingham High School teacher Deborah A. Pontious filed a defamation lawsuit against the Record and reporter Steve Korris alleging inaccuracies in three published articles about her dispute with her former employer.

The articles ran in the Record in late 2005. Each pertained to allegations by the high school concerning inappropriate attire allegedly worn by Pontious at school.

Pontious' lawsuit alleges, without explanation, that statements in the articles relating to the high school's allegations are false.

Pontious claims each of the false statements "imputes that Plaintiff is unable to perform or lacks integrity in performing her employment duties," and/or "imputes that Plaintiff lacks ability or otherwise prejudices the Plaintiff in her profession."

Pontious alleges publication of the statements has, among other things, impaired her earning capacity and impeded her ability to secure gainful employment in her chosen profession. She seeks compensatory damages "greatly in excess of $50,000" and an equal amount of punitive damages for each of the three articles.

Pontious' complaint indicates she is representing herself. Her husband, embattled attorney Gary Peel, sued the Record and Korris in early 2006 in an unrelated case.

Peel, who is currently facing federal criminal charges arising out of a dispute with his ex-wife, brought a lawsuit against his ex-wife, their son, the Record, and Korris for an article in the Record that allegedly invaded Peel's privacy by reporting testimony he gave in hisbankruptcy case. On April 27, Madison County Circuit Judge Lola Maddox stayed that suit in light of the pending criminal charges.

Pontious' lawsuit against the Record and Korris is the second one she has filed relating to Effingham High School's allegations concerning Pontious' attire. Those allegations were one of the subjects of a lawsuit Pontious filed in 2002 against the high school and two school officials. That case, which has been consolidated with a related case filed by Peel, remains pending before Christian County Circuit Judge John P. Coady.

Pontious' case against the Record and Korris has been assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel J. Stack.

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