Judge: Pugh made accuser ‘sex slave,’ to stand trial

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Calling him a “gay pedophile,” a Detroit judge bound former Detroit City Council president Charles Pugh over for trial Friday on criminal sexual conduct charges involving a 14-year-old boy more than a decade ago.

Judge Deborah Langston of 36th District Court said the teen was Pugh’s “unofficial gopher and sex slave.”

She also ordered Pugh, who had his bond lowered from $500,000 to $150,000, to have no contact with boys under the age of 16 if he’s able to post bond.

“I don’t care that he’s gay, that’s his business,” Langston said. “I am concerned about children and Mr. Pugh being together, especially males, since he’s gay.

“I don’t have the faith that he’s not going to bother with some other young boys because that is what he appears to like. We got the civil case and now we got this case. I am concerned. I am concerned.”

Langston was referencing an earlier federal civil case where a man accused Pugh, 45, of sexual harassment when he was a teenager.

If Pugh is able to post bond, Langston said the former broadcast journalist will have to wear a tether and turn over his driver’s license and passport.

Pugh wore a green two-piece jail outfit in court. His family, an uncle and some other relatives, looked on from second-row seats as the lurid allegations in the criminal case were leveled against Pugh.

Family members refused to comment.

Langston’s decision to bind Pugh over to stand trial on criminal sexual conduct charges came after hearing graphic testimony from the alleged victim, now 27, who took the witness stand Friday in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and testified about his sexual encounters, which allegedly included oral and anal sex with Pugh.

Pugh dropped his head and shook his leg as the man, dressed in a suit and tie, talked about his dalliances with Pugh in 2003-05, when he was a teenager as young as 14.

The man said he met Pugh in 2003 during a trip to WJBK-TV (Channel 2), where his Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit performed.

He said a short time afterward Pugh came to his home, met his mother and talked to her about the teen being his intern and assistant.

Later, the teen accompanied Pugh to a news assignment to cover a march down Woodward commemorating the 1963 walk of civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King.

The man, who spoke clearly and calmly, said Pugh touched his legs but that he brushed it off because he did not want to end his opportunities to hang out with Pugh, a local celebrity. He said that not long afterward Pugh asked him to go shopping with him for a desk for his apartment. The two ended up at Pugh’s apartment where both engaged in mutual masturbation.

The man said Pugh told him, “Don’t tell anybody. I could get into trouble for this.”

The man, who said he is gay, said there were a couple of other times he had sex involving penetration with Pugh.

He said he saw Pugh as a mentor and someone in his corner and that he was attracted to Pugh because “he was gay; he was successful. He was black from Detroit.”

The man said the sex between Pugh and him was consensual and that he believed he was “special” to Pugh. He even confronted Pugh about rumors he was having relationships with other teen boys. He said he came forward after hearing about a federal lawsuit against Pugh and also because he wasn’t going to “let (Pugh) do this to any other kid.”

Pugh’s defense attorney, Delphia Burton, said the man, who is not being named by The Detroit News, was looking for a “payday” since there was a settlement in a federal lawsuit against Pugh by another man who made similar accusations against Pugh.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Ralph Elizondo said although the boy may have consented to the sexual encounters, Pugh was a person in authority who was coercing and “grooming” a young teen into a sexual relationship with him.

Pugh, 45, was arraigned on the charges July 12 and was given a $500,000 cash bond. .

Pugh is facing trial on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. A third count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct was dismissed Friday.

Pugh was extradited from his New York City jail cell to Detroit last month to face the criminal charges. He worked as a waiter in New York.

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

Last year, a 20-year-old man won a $250,000 judgment against Pugh in a federal sexual harassment lawsuit. The man said he was 17 when Pugh allegedly befriended him. Pugh was president of City Council at the time of the alleged relationship.

The teenager — identified only as “K.S.” — says he met Pugh through the Charles Pugh Leadership Academy program at Detroit Public Schools. He accused Pugh of offering him cash for oral sex and a sex video.

The student filed his suit against Pugh and the school district and won $350,000, which included money from the district and $250,000 from Pugh. Pugh appealed the judgment but later withdrew it.

Pugh is due back in court Aug. 12 for an arraignment on information.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com