Southern Illinois University Edwardsville professor Curtis Smith alleges that Deborah Pontious, former wife of felon Gary Peel, defamed him after a relationship between them ended.

Smith sued Pontious in Madison County on Oct. 3, over messages she allegedly sent to his sister in law and his supervisor at SIUE a year ago.

Smith’s lawyers, Ed Unsell and Janel Freeman of East Alton, wrote that Pontious published the statements maliciously and with intent to destroy his reputation.

The suit claims that Pontious’s false statements damaged Smith’s professional integrity and caused him actual pecuniary loss.

Unsell and Freeman wrote that Pontious falsely imputed commission of crimes and want of integrity in performing the duties of his profession.

They wrote that she knew or should have known her conduct would result in severe emotional distress.

Attached to the complaint were copies of two email messages allegedly written by Pontious, which Unsell and Freeman call “extreme and outrageous.”

An email message to Dr. Linda Morice at SIUE reads, “I feel I have information about his conduct that reflects very poorly on SIUE.”

“I am afraid that facts that I am privy to may become public and prove to be embarrassing to everyone, including the University,” the message states.

“I know that he received an unsatisfactory evaluation this year at the University, as I saw the letter myself.

“Curt spends his days at home on adult websites, trying to hook up with women whenever possible.

“He is presently communicating with women overseas, specifically Ghana, using his position at the university as a way to lure them over.

“Curt Smith misrepresents to many people that he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam. He says that he was shot down and received a purple heart. He was never in the military, although he shows dog tags that he had made to support his fantasy.

“Curt will look you in the eye and lie so well that you will think that he is telling the truth. Well, he believes his lies so they are the truth to him.

“I feel very sorry for him but it appears that his behavior is completely out of control.

“Here is something that you need to know: he carries a loaded handgun under the front seat of his car onto university property.

“Actually, he always carries one in his vehicle, loaded, which is not legal.

“I wish no harm to come his way, but felt that I need to let you know what is going on before more people get hurt.

“Please do not let him know about this email, as he will take it out on a group of us that he has threatened.

A message to Ann Smith reads, “I have tried being nice, being crazy, anything to get him to see the light that he has to stop making the choices he makes or he is going to end up in jail, publicly humiliated, and/or dead at the hands of these internet hookups that he is addicted to.

“I am telling you this because his behavior has escalated recently and it is only a matter of time before something awful happens to him.

“He lies about everything and I believe that all the positive things that I did for him with the intention of making him feel loved and secure only made him believe that he should be able to do whatever he wants in life, regardless of the consequences to those around him.

“Unfortunately, no matter how much love and affection one gives to Curt, it is not enough. I know the feeling.

 “A couple of weeks ago he accused me of trying to run over him and the dog when I was trying to flee his house because he was calling the police on me because I caught him in another lie.

“I wanted Curt to be this elegant man who was content to be a good father and grandfather and was happy with the love of one woman.

“He thinks no one knows about what he is up to, but they do. He is perceived as a creepy old sex pervert.

“He says he is mad at me because I won’t marry him this minute. Well, he has no money for a ring, a honeymoon, or anything.

“He says that he will never speak to me again or he is turning me into the police. That would not be good for him but he refuses to believe that he would be getting himself into trouble.

“I really tried to be good to him but he brings out the worst in me.”

The university website identifies Smith as professor of educational administration.

His complaint identifies Pontious as a resident of St. Peter, in FayetteCounty.

She once taught math at Effingham high school, where the principal suspended her for the way she dressed.

Her union didn’t sue for her, so she hired lawyer Gary Peel of Glen Carbon to do it.

His suit failed, but along the way he divorced wife Debra and married Pontious.

He signed a divorce agreement providing ample funds for the former wife, but he sought to escape the obligation by filing a bankruptcy petition in 2005.

In a statement like a deposition, he said he transferred many possessions to Pontious.

He said he gave her a mermaid fountain weighing about 800 pounds.

The Record published stories from Peel’s bankruptcy statement.

Peel tried to blackmail his former wife, thinking she could stop the stories.

His procedure involved placing nude photographs of Debra Peel’s then-minor sister in her mailbox, and that led to conviction and imprisonment on bankruptcy fraud and child pornography charges in 2007.  

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