by Allie Gross
In 2013, prominent Detroit politician Charles Pugh stepped down from his position as City Council President and — as hyperbolic rumor has it — slinked out of town in the dead of the night. Accused of making sexual advances towards a 17-year old Detroit Public Schools student that he was paired with through a mentorship program he ran, Pugh’s reputation was quickly tarnished as screenshots of his tawdry texts to the male teen made their way across the interwebs.
Flashforward two-years and Pugh — and the alleged sexual harassment case — are back in the news. The teen, identified in court documents as “KS” filed a civil suit against Pugh and DPS, and with the case headed to a jury trial this month, a number of new revelations are coming to light.
Earlier today the Detroit News reported on a sworn affidavit, filed in conjunction with the case, by Nathaniel Hill — Pugh’s former teenage personal assistant — which indicates KS was not the only high school student Pugh made unwanted sexual advances towards.
“Over the months and years, there were a number of small incidents involving body language and/or the way Mr. Pugh spoke to me and/or looked at me that made me uncomfortable because they seemed to be sexual advances,” Hill, now 22, wrote in the affidavit.
According to Hill’s written statement, he was hired as Pugh’s "intern/personal assistant" in 2007 while he was a 14-year old student at Cass Tech and Pugh was working as a broadcaster for WJBK Fox 2. He continued to work for Pugh through the disgraced politician's successful 2009 city council election.
During his employment, according to the affidavit, Hill was the target of unwanted sexual advances, which included Pugh playing pornographic videos while he was cleaning the house.
“During my employment with Mr. Pugh, I was in his home frequently. On several occasions pornographic videos were on the computer screen while I was present,” wrote Hill “It was not unusual for me to come into a room and find pornographic material on Mr. Pugh’s computer and talk to him while the material was visible. Pornography was a frequent backdrop to activities at Mr. Pugh’s home when I was there.Many of the actors in the pornography videos were very young and appeared to be adolescent or very young adults. Some videos depicted group sex. All of the pornography was gay pornography.”
Hill also wrote that when he was 16-years old he sent Pugh a picture of himself in only underwear and socks, to which Pugh wrote back, “Can I see more? Show me more.” According to Hill, when he did not respond “Mr. Pugh became nervous and asked why I wasn’t responding to him.”
Hill says he was making as much as $300 a week from politician; however, when he never became sexually involved with Pugh, work began to wane "until I was no longer working for him at all.”
It is hope of the lawyers representing KS that Hill — who is currently serving 11 years in state prison for carjacking, felony firearm and other charge — will testify in court.
His statements, if true, help bolster the allegation that Pugh had a penchant for young boys.
“It was clear to me that Mr. Pugh was attracted to teenaged males. I saw him pursue young men on several occasions and in various ways. Frequently he was manipulative. Mr. Pugh made it clear that he believed he could attract any young man he set his sights on,” Hill wrote, also stating, “The stories I heard were similar to the experience I had when Mr. Pugh attempted to groom and manipulate me into participating in sexual behavior while I was an underage Detroit Public Schools student.”
Pugh, who made a public appearance in federal court last Wednesday, has been generally mum about the case. When approached by the Detroit News for comment last week he neither denied nor confirmed the allegations instead giving a rather vague and defeated soundbyte: “It is what it is. I’ll just say I don’t have a lot to say.”
While he may not be too vocal about the issues now, Pugh has not exactly been keen about going down without a fight. In February he asked the federal judge handling the case to reveal the identity of KS.
DPS, who has been trying unsuccessfully to be dismissed from the case, also wanted KS’s identity to be revealed. In February the school system filed an argument stating KS “actively invited and encouraged Pugh's text messaging.” (Note to DPS: Victim blaming is not really a good look, especially not for a school district).
The case is set to go to a jury trial October 13.