Judge: Teen's case against Pugh will go to trial

Posted at 7:05 PM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-17 19:05:32-04

A sexual harassment lawsuit filed against ex-Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh by a former student will go to trial next month.

Pugh faces claims that he preyed on a then-18-year-old student who he met through the Charles Pugh Leadership Forum at the Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit.

In a 24-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson refused to dismiss claims that Pugh's behavior violated a student's civil rights and caused intentional infliction of emotional distress, saying they are issues that should be decided by a jury. 

Lawson did dismiss a claim alleging Pugh improperly touched the student in a Madison Heights store parking lot.

In addition to Pugh, the student's claims against Detroit Public Schools will also move forward. 

Pugh's conduct, exposed by 7 Action News in 2013, led him to flee Detroit as the city lurched towards bankruptcy.  He later resigned his position as City Council President and began work as a waiter in a New York City restaurant. 

A 2013 police investigation revealed that Pugh sent graphic, sexually-explicit text messages to his former student in which he pressured him to provide nude photos where he would perform sexual acts in exchange for money and presents. 

In a text where the student thanked Pugh for his cash gifts, he responded: “I tried my best to make sure u had more than everyone…that’s our secret.”

Minutes later, he invited the student over to his home…and Pugh promised more: “let me know which game system I can buy and which games you like….”  The student didn’t respond, so Pugh went further: “…I give $100 for all solo vids…So if u ever need extra cash keep that in mind.” 

In another message, he wrote: “…I wanna see your body. Front and back...the video has to show everything.”  Pugh made it clearthat if the student told anyone about his requests, the money would stop. “erase these messages bro," Pugh wrote. "We wanna make sure you have college money.”

In his efforts to have the case tossed, Pugh's attorney Marc Deldin argued that his client's conduct was commonplace.

"The exchange of sexually explicit text messages and Plaintiff selling a video of himself is hardly outrageous," Deldin wrote. "This occurred between two consenting adults. Among 18-24 year olds in America, 44% receive sexual based messages."

The jury trial is set for October 13.  Pugh's attorney was not immediately reachable for comment.