Ex-Detroit City Council president Charles Pugh bound over to trial

Pugh faces criminal sexual conduct charges

By John Steckroth - Editor

DETROIT - Former Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh was bound over to trial Friday morning on criminal sexual conduct charges.

The Wayne County prosecutor charged Pugh, 45, with three counts of criminal sexual conduct and three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The third count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct was dismissed Friday.

He was arrested last month in New York, where he has lived since 2013. He is currently being lodged at the Wayne County Jail.

His bond was set at $500,000 cash.

Pugh was elected to Detroit’s City Council in 2009, but quit in 2013.

What happened

According to the prosecutor’s office, Pugh engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with a 14-year-old boy in 2003 when Pugh was a reporter and anchor at WJBK-TV. The two met when the then-teen inquired about an internship at the television station. The boy didn’t intern at the station but was invited to Pugh’s Detroit apartment several times, and the two had contact by phone and text messages, prosecutors said.

The complainant is now 27 years old.

“It is alleged that Pugh had inappropriate sexual contact with the complainant at his home in Detroit from September 2003 through May 2004,” the prosecutor’s office said. “The complainant was 14 and 15 years of age at the time of the alleged contact. The specific facts and evidence in the case will be presented in court at the preliminary examination.”

Pugh was arrested in New York and extradited back to Michigan, where he was arraigned in Wayne County. Watch the full arraignment below.

Victim reveals details at preliminary hearing

The 27-year-old victim took the stand Friday and described his association with Pugh.

As a ninth-grader at Martin Luther King High School, the victim was a member of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, which performed at WJBK-TV in March 2003. After the performance, the victim said Pugh offered him what he thought was an incredible opportunity.

“I was excited,” the victim said. “I had an opportunity to do something different, to put something on my resume that would help me get into school a whole lot quicker.”

The victim wasn’t an intern at the television station, but said he was convinced he would be acting as an assistant to Pugh. During this time, they would run errands together.

He testified that they went to Pugh’s apartment to put together a desk they bought earlier at Art Van. After the victim assembled the desk, Pugh allegedly asked if he wanted to see a video.

“He turned on a video of a gentleman sitting on the floor masturbating,” the victim said.

Pugh allegedly told the victim the man in the video was the “Joe Boxer” guy and that the video was made after the man lost a bet over “American Idol.”

“He notices that I’m starting to become erect and he asked me if I’d like him to take care of that,” the victim said on the stand.

The victim described in detail numerous sexual interactions between himself and Pugh.

Judge Deborah Langston bound Pugh over for trial.

“He became his unofficial gofer and sex slave basically,” Langston said.

Defense asked for a reduction in bond. The court reduced the bond to $150,000 cash/surety with a GPS tether. If he posts bond, Pugh must forfeit his passport and license, and must have no contact with boys under the age of 16 years old.

Judge recuses herself

Pugh was in court July 19, when Judge Shannon Holmes recused herself from the case because of a previous professional relationship with Pugh and her connection to the victim.

Holmes said she had worked with Pugh and knew the victim’s family. She said she felt that it would not impede her ability to be fair, but she didn’t want to give the appearance of bias.

The case was moved to Judge Deborah Langston’s courtroom.

Previous civil charges

In a separate case, a federal jury last year awarded $250,000 to a young man who accused Pugh of sexually harassing him while he was in office and serving as a mentor.

Pugh and the Detroit Public School District were sued by the former student, who said his civil rights were violated and claimed that Pugh was given extraordinary access to boys who were being mentored at Douglass Academy in 2012.

The student was 17. Pugh denied the allegations. Police said the two exchanged hundreds of text messages, including some that were sexually explicit.

The jury found Pugh not liable for sexual harassment but decided that he caused emotional distress for the teen and pressured him to create a sexual video. The jury also found Pugh liable for sexual battery.

Pugh was not charged criminally in connection with the allegations.

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