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Judge will allow men to testify in Pugh trial

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News
Former Detroit City Council president and broadcast journalist Charles Pugh is due back in court Thursday for a pre-trial hearing on criminal sexual conduct charges.

Detroit — A judge ruled Thursday he will allow testimony in Charles Pugh’s criminal sexual conduct trial from men who say the former Detroit City Council president made advances toward them.

One of the men is in his twenties who won a $250,000 judgment against Pugh in a federal sexual harassment lawsuit last year. He said he was 17 and a Detroit Public Schools student when Pugh, who was City Council president at the time, allegedly befriended him.

The man says he met Pugh through the Charles Pugh Leadership Academy program at DPS. He accused Pugh of offering him cash for oral sex and a sex video of himself.

The teen filed his suit against Pugh and the school district and won $350,000.

Defense attorney Delphia Burton told Cameron he was going down a “slippery slope.” In her pleadings, she said the Douglass Academy student was 18 years old “which is certainly contrary to the allegations set forth in the ... case.”

Burton accused the prosecution of using the testimony as a “smear campaign” to attack Pugh’s character.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Danielle Bennetts asked the judge to allow prosecutors to put several young men on the stand to prove Pugh has a pattern of pursuing teens and boy to entice and groom them for an illicit sexual relationship.

“I don’t think we have a thread (of evidence) here,” Bennetts said. “We have a rope.”

In the prosecution’s amended “other acts” motion, Bennetts argued the testimony from the men will show a “whole lot of similarities” to that of a 27-year-old alleged victim, who accuses Pugh of having an inappropriate and sexual relationship with him when he was 14.

Pugh was charged in June in that case with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. One charge was droppedin August.

The Detroit News does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Another man said he was 15 when he met Pugh and later accompanied him to a local nightclub where Pugh supplied him with alcohol. Afterward, according to the man’s statements, Pugh took him to the Boston Edison district home of Pugh’s aunt where he had sex with the teen. The man said he had sex with Pugh on “other occasions” as well.

In the motion filing, another man claims he met Pugh when he was 14 or 15 years old when he worked as a personal assistant for Pugh at Fox 2 television. He said as part of his job he frequently went to Pugh’s apartment on Adelaide near downtown. The man, who is now serving time in a Michigan prison for carjacking and other charges, said Pugh made remarks about how he looked “physically” and would tell him he was “beautiful.”

He said he sent Pugh a naked picture of himself when he was 15 and Pugh asked him for additional pictures, allegedly texting him: “Can I see more?” and “Show me more.” He said he didn’t comply. He also accuses Pugh of trying to “groom and manipulate” him into taking part in sexual acts.

Burton said there was “never” any “sexual contact” between the man and Pugh.

Pugh is also accused of an alleged inappropriate relationship between Pugh and a 19-year-old male intern at Fox 2. Pugh was allegedly disciplined by station officials and given a “last and final” warning about “fraternization” with the intern.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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