Pugh Update: Civil Suit Filed

By Jason A. Michael

DETROIT - A week after a federal judge ruled that he could not sue the city of Detroit outside of bankruptcy court, a former high school student has filed a lawsuit against former Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh seeking $1 million in damages. The suit also lists as defendants Detroit Public Schools, former Emergency Managers Robert Bobb and Roy Roberts, high school principal Berry Greer and assistant principal Monique McMurtry.

In his complaint, Khody Sanford, who was a member of the Charles Pugh Leadership Forum at Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men, said DPS "was aware of Defendant Pugh's physicality, favoritism and sexual harassment toward certain students, and particularly plaintiff."

As previously reported in Between The Lines, Pugh took Sanford to Madison Heights on the last day of school last year where he bought him dress clothes and a cell phone. Once Sanford had the phone, he began exchanging explicit text messages with Pugh and, at the politician's request, filmed a video of himself masturbating in exchange for $160 to be used toward prom expenses.

The relationship ended when Sanford's mother, Tamu Gaines, discovered the messages. She filed a report with the Madison Heights Police Department, but Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper found no evidence that a crime had been committed and declined to file charges.

Now the civil suit alleges sexual harassment. But a look at the text messages included in the Madison Heights police report show Sanford, who was 18 at the time, as a willing participant in the relationship.

"I need games and money," Sanford said in one text message.

"I got you," Pugh replied, encouraging him again to make a video. "Just quit being so damn scared."

"I'm making the vid when I get home," Sandford said. "I'm serious as f***."

"You guys need to know how to WORK the guys with power and money who have crushes on y'all," Pugh responded. "You got the HOOKUP, bro. You just don't know how to work it. You could get anything you want from me."

According to the lawsuit, Pugh's behavior in the matter was "intentional, extreme, outrageous and of such character as to be intolerable in a civilized society."

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