Charles Pugh charged in criminal sex case
Former Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh has been arrested without incident at his home in New York City and charged with six counts of criminal sexual conduct in a case from nearly 13 years ago, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office announced Thursday.
The U.S. Marshals Service for the New York and New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force coordinated the arrest of Pugh with the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Task Force.
Pugh faces three counts each of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and third degree. The first-degree charges alone carry the possibility of life in prison. The charges indicate the alleged incident or incidents took place between September 2003 and May 2004.
The statute listed for the third-degree criminal sexual charges involves a person engaging in sexual penetration with another person between 13 and 16 years old, according to the Michigan Legislature’s website.
A recommendation was made Wednesday in Wayne Circuit Court for Pugh’s arrest. By Thursday afternoon, no proceedings had taken place in efforts to extradite Pugh back to Detroit.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had not assigned an assistant district attorney to Pugh’s case as of Thursday afternoon, said Maria Miller, spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
“Despite what the defendant has meant to the city in the past, and the positive work he did here, we cannot and will not turn a blind eye to these alleged facts,” Worthy said in a statement.
Pugh’s arrest was captured on video by PIX 11 in New York. Asked by reporter Mario Diaz if he had anything to say to the people of Detroit, Pugh declined comment.
The alleged incidents took place when Pugh was an anchor at Fox 2 News, the statement said. The complainant, who is 27 now, was 14 and 15 years old at the time.
Pugh met the 14-year-old in June 2003, when the teen was at the news station performing with a theater group. The teen asked Pugh about an internship and they exchanged numbers. Though the teen never worked an internship for Fox 2, Pugh kept in contact and allegedly began inviting the boy to his Detroit apartment that summer as they communicated via phone and text messages.
The prosecutor’s office alleges the inappropriate sexual contact began that September and continued through next May.
Pugh relocated to New York City after leaving Detroit at the height of a more recent scandal involving a youth who was 17 when Pugh reportedly befriended him. Pugh was the City Council president at the time.
The teen — identified only as “K.S.” — met Pugh through the Charles Pugh Leadership Academy program at Detroit Public Schools in 2012. He accused Pugh of offering cash for oral sex and a sex video.
The student filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the former Fox 2 broadcaster and the school district. He settled for $350,000 from the district and $250,000 from Pugh.
Pugh’s former 14-year-old personal assistant claimed in a filing in the student’s federal suit that Pugh subjected him to unwanted sexual advances and regularly played pornographic movies while the teen cleaned his house.
Last November, a jury found Pugh responsible for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the student’s civil case but dismissed a sexual harassment claim.
Pugh appealed the $250,000 judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in January. The student’s attorney, Bill Seikaly, confirmed to The Detroit News in April that Pugh had abandoned his appeal.
Efforts to reach Marc Deldin, who represented Pugh in the earlier case, were unsuccessful late Wednesday night.
Seikaly tried to force Pugh to pay on the judgment by serving public notice of the debt in New York, where the former journalist lived and reportedly worked in Manhattan as a waiter.
Pugh also was embroiled in controversy in 2010 after he waited three days to file a police report about his city vehicle being involved in a crash.
There was no lawyer listed for Pugh in the circuit court charges listing.
Staff writer James David Dickson contributed.