DETROIT – Former Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh has returned to the news over the past week as the start date for his civil trial nears. Pugh’s trial was originally slated to begin this week. But District Judge David Lawson pushed the start back to Nov. 3 in the wake of new allegations by a second man who has come forward to claim that Pugh groomed him for sex while he was underage.
In a sworn affidavit 22-year-old Nathaniel Hill said he was hired to be Pugh’s personal intern when he was a 14-year-old student at Cass Technical High School. Hill, who is currently serving 9-20 years in prison for carjacking, claims that while working in Pugh’s downtown condo he would witness pornography playing on Pugh’s personal computer and be subjected to body language that he interpreted as unwanted sexual advances.
“Many of the actors in the pornography videos were very young,” the affidavit reads in part. “It was clear to me that Mr. Pugh was attracted to teenaged males … Mr. Pugh made it clear that he believed he could attract any young man he set his sights on.”
Hill is claiming he came forward because his story was so similar to Khody Sanford’s, the man who is suing Pugh. Sanford’s attorney is hoping to have Hill testify at the trial. In rescheduling the start date of the trial, Judge Lawson gave Pugh’s attorney time to depose Hill and other potential witnesses.
While Hill’s claims have the potential to be damaging to Pugh, there is the question of Hill’s credibility.
“(The jury) will experience some issues of credibility with this witness,” Sanford’s attorney, Nicole James, told Fox 2 News. “This is someone who, my understanding is, is in prison now on a carjacking charge. And that is a very serious offense and a very violent offense.”
School Board Members Warned Placing Pugh At Boy’s Academy Was ‘Dangerous’
Also made public this week were affidavits filed by three members of the Detroit School Board who claim they made Detroit Public Schools emergency managers aware of their concerns with Pugh’s mentoring program at Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men.
“Mr. Pugh was thought to date underage teenage boys and we made sure the emergency managers – Roy Roberts and Robert Bobb – were aware of our concerns and the reasons behind them,” said Detroit School Board member Ida Short. “We wanted the emergency manager to not allow the mentorship program to proceed or continue as planned. We thought it would be better if Mr. Pugh were placed at another facility, perhaps a girl’s facility.”
According to the affidavits, the board thought that having Pugh’s program take place “at a boy’s academy was dangerous.”
Roberts and Bobb are named alongside Pugh in the suit. District lawyers have previously tried unsuccessfully to have all claims against Detroit Public Schools dismissed.
A Tale Of Two Texters
The suit, which stems from a prolonged interaction between Sanford and Pugh that took place in May/June 2013, alleges “personal injury” and “violation of civil rights.” Sanford is claiming that Pugh made unwanted sexual advances and groomed him for sex while he participated in the Charles Pugh Leadership Forum during his senior year. There is no record, however, of Sanford and Pugh ever being alone until after Sanford’s last day of his senior year, at which time he was 18. At that time, Pugh bought him clothes for a job interview and gave him some cash and a new cell phone. Text messages obtained as part of a Madison Heights police investigation – that resulted in no criminal charges against Pugh – show the two texted back and forth frequently over the following days.
“Can I trust you?” Pugh asked in one of the first text messages he sent.
“Trust me to what?” Sanford asked.
“Keep our friendship our business.”
“If I can trust you, then the sky is the limit for you, sir,” Pugh said. “You can have whatever you need or want.”
What Sanford needed turned out to be $160 to pay for prom expenses, which Pugh agreed to give to him in exchange for a video of Sanford masturbating. Sanford made the video and received the cash. But shortly afterward, Sanford’s mother discovered her son was texting the councilman and put a stop to the relationship.
“Everything between us has to stop,” Sanford said in his last text message to Pugh. “My mom knows what is up and is going to report you.”