Charles Pugh wants to unmask teen sex accuser

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

The former Detroit high school student accusing ex-Detroit Council President Charles Pugh of offering cash for sex wanted the money and gifts, the Detroit school district’s lawyer said.

Detroit Public Schools made the argument in an attempt to have Detroit U.S. District Judge David Lawson toss a lawsuit filed by the former student against Pugh and the district, which hosted Pugh’s mentoring program at Frederick Douglass Academy.

Pugh, a former Detroit television personality as well as politician, also is asking the judge to unmask the identity of the teen. It’s the latest development stemming from a sordid incident that surfaced in 2013, before Pugh resigned from the council and left the state.

The school district tried to get the lawsuit dismissed earlier this month, but identified the former student by name in violation of the judge’s order. In the lawsuit, the male student is simply known as K.S.

After identifying the accuser in its court filing, the school district filed a second request to dismiss the lawsuit and said the former student encouraged Pugh to send explicit text messages offering cash and gifts for explicit homemade videos and sex acts.

“Plaintiff’s own text messages reveal that plaintiff actively invited and encouraged Pugh’s text messaging,” school district lawyer Theophilus Clemons wrote.

Clemons included text messages from the 18-year-old to prove his point.

“I really need that money,” the teen texted June 1, 2013. “I want an xbox 360 wit (sic) two controllers…Im (sic) making the vid when I get home im (sic) serious...”

After one apparent transaction, the teen texted Pugh: “My vid was worth the game.”

Michelle Zdrodowski, a DPS spokeswoman, said the district was never served with the judge’s order against identifying the teen in court filings.

The accuser’s lawyer, William Seikaly, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor, said the district’s tactic of attacking the former student is risky.

“It’s a dangerous argument to make. You could end up generating a lot of sympathy for the plaintiff,” he said. “This may not be the kind of argument they make in front of a jury, but in a legal filing, in front of a judge, you’re not worried as much about the impact it will have.”

The case, if not dismissed by the judge, is set for trial Oct. 13 in federal court.

The teen never complained about receiving texts from Pugh, the district’s lawyer argued.

“To the contrary, plaintiff repeatedly texted back and 1) verified what sex acts Pugh wanted plaintiff to perform in the video, and 2) negotiated what money and games plaintiff wanted in return for the sex video, and 3) after making the sex video told Pugh to come and get it ... ” Clemons wrote.

Pugh’s lawyer, Marc Deldin, said the accuser should be unmasked.

“While plaintiff portrays himself as an unknowing victim, his texts to Mr. Pugh paint a different picture,” Deldin wrote Monday. “Plaintiff actively solicited money from Mr. Pugh in exchange for making sexual oriented videos.”

Deldin blames the teen’s mother for turning the text messages into a public spectacle.

“He was 18 years old at the time and, as he admits, his embarrassment and humiliation is the result of his own choices and the decision his mother made to call the media,” Deldin wrote

The teen’s complaint alleges Pugh was given unprecedented access and control over male students at the school without supervision, monitoring or control by DPS. The suit also alleges that when the teen began participating in the Charles Pugh Leadership Forum at the school, Pugh “began to provide extra attention” and began to “groom him in preparation for making sexual advances.”

Pugh has denied the allegations. He also has denied offering to perform oral sex on the teen in exchange for money.

“(I) did not have unsupervised access to students and was never alone with students,” Pugh wrote.

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