One could argue that there's no need for any more notebook reporting of the allegations surrounding Charles Pugh because we know exactly how this is going to play out.
To recap, the Detroit City Council President has been accused of plying for a young man's affections with cash and expensive gifts. There has been no legal filing yet, but Pugh has been absent from his city council duties for nearly two weeks at this point. As a result, city emergency manager Kevyn Orr has stripped Pugh of his salary.
On the scale between Jerry Sandusky and Eddie Long, and yes it's necessary to invoke these names to lay out the media circus that will inevitably follow Pugh in the coming days, our councilman leans toward the latter — allegedly. The young man in question is 17, barely squeaking by Michigan's age of consent law of 16. However, the young man was a high school student and a participant in Pugh's self-named mentoring program, and legal eagles have noted that if worse comes to worst, Pugh could be facing a charge using his volunteer status to enter into a relationship with a minor if said volunteer used their position to gain access to said minor.
And as a reminder, this is all dependent on if Pugh was in a relationship with the student. The boy's mother has not said yes or no. And Pugh is MIA.
Since the story broke, we've already been through almost all the chapters of the Noteworthy Person Accused of Sexual Indiscretion guidebook. Here are your Cliff's Notes.
1. Someone who is not the parent speaks out on behalf of the family of the alleged victim.
A woman identifying herself as the aunt of Pugh's mentee was interviewed on WJLB — one of Pugh's former employers — during the morning show, and while she didn't outright say that Pugh was sexually involved with her nephew, she did fuel the fire with allegations about the councilman's preferences:
"His other boyfriends are young. He got the last one out of Cass (Technical) High School. He's a predator, and nobody wants to say that because he's Charles Pugh."
And also lent some explanation as to why the family didn't contact authorities before contacting reporters:
"Just like Kwame Kilpatrick, things in the city get swept up under the rug. We already know — they still ain't figured out what happened to Tamara Greene. We have a lot of issues within our city, and we already know....She went to the news to expose it, because child molestation on any level is wrong."
2. Just enough of the alleged text messages are released to keep the speculation going.
Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff (again, another one of Pugh's former employers) spoke directly to the mother and was able to get one text message that wasn't necessarily incriminating, but wasn't becoming of a major city's politician:
"Is this you? Since yo ass didn't text me. lol lets go at 2 pm."
Sidebar: You've got to hand it to the family for what appears to be a well-executed media tour. Rather than spread thin throughout all of our local outlets and risk diluting the story, you can see the strategy: Relative hits up gossipy (but well-listened) morning radio show, lawyers handle the press conferences and man-about-town LeDuff gets just enough of a scoop to keep the story out front.
3. Unsubstantiated insider gossip starts to fly.
Someone calling themselves "astongraham" broke up the usual conversations of building preservation and suburban racist fear-mongering on DetroitYes with more alleged tidbits of Pugh's personal life:
Whenever he is seen in public, he has one or two young gay men with him as part of his staff. I know that they are gay because I am also gay and I am very familiar with my community, and the local black gay clubs. There is one guy in particular that is always by his side, he introduces the boy (21 ish) as his cousin. It's very obvious he is screwing his "cousin".
Pugh has a long history of inappropriate behavior with young boys, this is known and has been known for many years in the black gay community. I've spoken before last fall about Mr. Pugh making a pass at a young boy i am related to. This is just new to you, this is old news to others.
There will be much more to come of this, trust me
I consider a "boy" in high school to be just that, a "boy". If you are hitting on high school age boys at DPS events, you are a pedophile!!
4. Onlookers take sides
Did you know that every local commenter has a psychology degree? And they'll remind you of how well-informed they are in every comment on every story about Pugh:
Meanwhile, graduates of the Dick Wolf School of Law have weighed in from the other side:
5. Empty commentary from someone remotely interesting/scandalous.
Karen Dumas is to Detroit media is what Star Jones is to morning news shows. We don't know why they're always called upon for advice, but somehow they're always there. And they just sort of mime what everybody else is saying, but they know their name alone will give it a false sense of credibility. Deadline Detroit picked up the latest rant from Mayor Bing's former aide:
"People should stop being blinded and influenced by the appearance of celebrity.The longer he is missing, the more I fear for his safety at his own hands. He can't hide forever."
6. Pugh-watch begins.
If local reporters spent half as much time on Pugh as they did figuring out where Ryan Gosling's dog is going to take a shit next, we would have found him before Friday night. A few vacationers spotted Pugh — allegedly — in the original Starbucks in Seattle. Expect the 24-hour campouts to commence near his home if/when he returns.
And the only reason why I'm not doubting that Pugh is in Seattle is because we all know him to be a man with Moet taste on a moscato budget. The handmade Burberry ties, anyone? Despite having no employment lined up, no salary and a documented history of inability to make rent, Pugh still would have no qualms about jumping on a plane and making his way through an impromptu vacation, and this is really the only thing we should not be surprised about.
7. The part of the story where we are obligated to feel sympathetic for the protagonist
No good deed goes unpunished, and apparently no kind-hearted individual is capable of a momentary lapse of judgment, at least according to today's Detroit Free Press follow-up that upsets the balance between alleged victim and the accused:
Another former student, 19-year-old Tevin Hill, awaiting his sophomore year at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said Friday that he credits Pugh and other mentors in the program with helping him survive a rough freshman year at the school south of Toledo. He said he nearly dropped out because he ran out of money for books and had trouble with a math class.
Pugh, learning of the math difficulties, immediately arranged for himself and other mentors to tutor Hill via Skype, Hill said, adding that Pugh sent him $100 to help pay for books. Hill said he worked in school dining halls making minimum wage to pay the remaining costs of books.
So, what's next after this? Since the Freep has Pugh as the lead story today, let's expect a different Pugh story to lead the Detroit News' site tomorrow — or perhaps a Finley "not surprised"-type column. The lawsuit will be filed Monday. Pugh still won't show up for a while. Channel 7, which broke the story but now finds themselves trying to keep up with LeDuff, is going to go into full hyperventilation mode so they can own the story ("Pugh's ex-college roommate speaks out — Action News at 11!"). Rochelle Riley is probably going to give some motherly advice telling us not to judge. Let's pray that Pugh's condo somehow is involved so Curbed can snark about it, and Charlie Langton is going to scream some more. I'll give until the end of the day for some social-media accounts of the boy in the center of it all to surface, but if not by today, then by the end of the week.