August 30, 2010 6:12 PM
Tomoya Shimura

SAN BERNARDINO • Attorneys delivered opening statements Monday morning in a multi-million dollar libel lawsuit filed by former San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod’s wife against a controversial local publisher.

Nancy Bohl accused Raymond Pryke of publishing articles in the Hesperia Resorter, Apple Valley News and Adelanto Bulletin that were “obviously false and grossly libelous.” Bohl’s attorney, John Rowell, said the articles hurt Bohl’s reputation and she suffered mental and monetary damages.

“It’s a unique case,” Pryke’s attorney, Frank Lizarraga Jr., told the jury. “There’s no doubt about it. There probably won’t be another case like this in my career.”

Lizarraga said the trial involves Pryke’s Constitutional right to publish information of “public concern.”

An article published in June 1999 with the headline “Sheriff Penrod spies on deputies” claimed that Bohl had leaked confidential patient-client information to her then-boyfriend Penrod. Bohl is a psychologist and owns The Counseling Team, a firm that provides crisis intervention services to Sheriff’s deputies.

And in April 2000, Pryke published an article headlined “Sleeping with Penrod pays off.” It claimed that Bohl took advantage of her relationship with Penrod so that The Counseling Team could obtain a contract with the Sheriff’s Department. Bohl and Penrod started dating in 1996, according to Lizarraga, and got married in 2000.

Rowell said in his opening statement that by the time Pryke’s articles were published, Bohl had worked 15 years with the county and already established a successful business.

The jury trial continues Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court.

To read more about the trial, see the full story in Tuesday’s Daily Press. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.