Pugh gets 5 1/2 to 15 years in prison in plea deal

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Former Detroit City Council president and broadcast journalist Charles Pugh pleaded guilty Wednesday as part of a plea deal to having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old boy.

Former Detroit City Council president and broadcast journalist Charles Pugh pleaded guilty Wednesday to having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old boy as part of a plea deal.

He will spend 5 1/2 years to 15 years behind bars. He also must register as a lifetime sex offender, get counseling and agree to have only supervised contact with children.

Pugh pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with allegations that he had an illicit and sexual relationship with the teen more than a decade ago. His sentences on both counts will run concurrently.

As part of the plea agreement, three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct were dropped. During the hearing, Pugh admitted he engaged in "sexual penetration" with the underage boy. Conviction on first-degree criminal sexual conduct would have been punishable by up to life in prison.  Other than admitting to the crime, Pugh did not make any statements.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 9.

His victim spoke to reporters after the brief hearing saying justice was served and Pugh will feel "the shame " the victim had felt for the rest of Pugh's life .

The 28-year-old man said people now know Pugh is sexual predator, adding his illicit relationship with Pugh was a "long held secret" many people didn't want to admit to knowing or hearing about. He said he felt justice was received with the plea deal.

"The shame that he put on myself and countless other young men who have dealt with him he now has to feel that for the rest of his life," said the victim, who was 14 when Pugh pursued him for a sexual relationship.

The Detroit News does not publish the names of victims sexual assault.

Pugh's plea deal closes the chapter of another sordid and embarrassing court case involving an elected Detroit official and community icon. Viewed as one of Detroit's favorite native sons, Pugh was a popular reporter and Fox 2 Detroit news anchor. He was elected to the Detroit City Council in 2009 but left in 2013 under a cloud of suspicion about inappropriate relationships with young boys.  He dropped out of sight from Detroiters and his position as the City Council president and surfaced soon after in New York City, where he was working as a waiter.

Pugh was brought back to Detroit by authorities in June after being charged by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy for having sex with the 14-year-old from 2003-2005. Prosecutors say Pugh enticed and groomed the boy for an illicit sexual relationship.

His victim said he felt satisfied Pugh had to admit to his wrongdoing.

"I hope that it sends to every person who has a fetish or liking for anyone under the age of 18 that they need to not follow through. You might  have those feeling but it's your actions. it's your actions that you can control so don't do it. Stop .Think. Because they might be 14, 15, 16 but one day they'll be 28, 29, 30  and if you have sex with them it's their right to let it be known."

He said he went through a "little bit" of counseling as a consequence. He said growing up the relationship affected that he way he dealt with adults.

The plea deal comes after two recent unfavorable court rulings against Pugh by Cameron.

Last week, Cameron ruled he would allow the testimony of men who allege Pugh made advances toward them when they were teens. One of those men sued Pugh in federal court last year and won a settlement against the former politician.

Cameron said the testimony might show a common plan or scheme to target “youthful-looking” males to assault.

Pugh's attorney, Delphia Burton, told Cameron at last week's hearing that he was going down a “slippery slope.” She accused the prosecution of using the witness’ testimony as a “smear campaign” to attack Pugh’s character.

During a hearing Oct. 14, Cameron denied a motion by Burton to dismiss all the charges against Pugh citing the statute of limitations. One count of third degree criminal sexual conduct was dismissed earlier.

The man said he came forward about their relationship after hearing about a federal lawsuit against the former politician in which the accuser won a $350,000 judgment against Pugh and the Detroit Public Schools. He said he also because he wasn’t going to “let (Pugh) do this to any other kid.”

Burton, said the man was looking for a “payday.” . That man was among prosecution witnesses Cameron ruled last week who could testify against Pugh.

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