Some advocacy groups demand action against former scout leader

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Some children's advocacy groups are demanding action after learning a former scoutmaster admitted to molesting young boys decades ago and went on to work at a church day care center in Charlotte.

The pastor of Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, Rush Otey, said Thomas Menghi Jr. worked there from 2002 to 2011 and left because his position was eliminated, not because of any allegations.

"I just feel anger and disgust," said David Fortwengler, a survivor of child abuse and a spokesperson for the child advocacy and anti-abuse group SNAP.

SNAP stands for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, but advocates for people who were targeted in Boy Scouts, camps, schools and athletic programs as well as those victimized by clergy members.

Fortwengler said it's unacceptable that Menghi was able to work at the church's Child Development Center, which takes care of kids under 5.

He believes the focus should be on charging Menghi and holding the Boy Scouts of America accountable for not reporting the abuse to police when it was discovered in the 1970s.

"They decided to do a public relations move instead of protecting children," he said.

Eyewitness News went to Menghi's home to ask him about his time at the church but no one answered the door.

Otey sent a letter to the congregation. He said Menghi passed their criminal background checks and at that "at no time during Mr. Menghi's employment were there hints, suspicions, observations, or allegations of any inappropriate conduct."

He said that Menghi also signed a statement that read: "I have not been convicted of a child or youth sexual or physical abuse crime. I am not currently involved in any allegation of abuse of a child or youth."

But Fortwengler said he wants the pastor to take another step.

"He needs to encourage anyone in his denomination that has suspicion or knowledge, you report it to the police," he said.

The District Attorney in Cumberland County, where Fayetteville is located, has said he will review the case there.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said it is not currently investigating any crimes involving Menghi and that no victims have contacted the department.