A former scoutmaster, Thomas J. Menghi Jr., admitted that he was drunk when he would molest Boy Scouts in the decade of the 1970s. During that era, Menghi was in his 20s, working as a Tupperware deliveryman and living in a motel in Fayetteville. He would invite boys from Troop 786 as young as 11 to ride with him on his delivery route. He would ask the boys to spend the night in his room so they could start early the next morning.
“Yes, I abused kids,” Menghi, now 69, said during an Associated Press interview. “But just how many and other details I can’t remember. It was a long time ago and I was in a fog.”
Last week, a court order made ‘perversion files’ kept by the Boy Scouts of America public. There are close to 14,500 pages of these files. The file on Menghi provides details of how the Scout officials investigated the claims, removed him from the Scouts and then kept from reporting the crimes to law enforcement. There were even parents who were not told about the abuse of their children.
When Menghi was 25 he decided that he wanted to give back to the organization that he was a member of as a child. He said that the longer he was alone with boys his ‘dark side’ came out. “What I did was wrong,” Menghi said. “I’m not making any excuses. But I was a heavy drinker and did pot every once in a while.”
The perversion file on Menghi says that a father of two brothers, 11 and 12, from his Troop contacted Scout officials about allegations of abuse in 1974. The boys were talking one day about what goes on in Menghi’s motel room and their older sister heard the conversation. There were other parents who reported the abuse as well.
Kia Kim District Scout Executive George F. Hardwick Sr. wrote a memo after interviewing parents that said Menghi abused close to 10 boys. Hardwick and other officials met with Menghi and banned him from the Scouts.
“The biggest thing was to get the guy out of scouting and away from our boys,” said George Heib, 86, who was at the meeting with Menghi. “Putting the boys through all the trauma of having to go to court and trial and all the stuff like that, I didn’t think it was worth it. Of course, the publicity wouldn’t be good for scouting, either.”
Paul I. Ernst was the head of the Scouts perversion files at the time of the Menghi abuse and he wrote, “Normally, we do not suggest that any legal action be instituted by parents. If they desire to do this on their own they certainly should bring about any action they feel necessary. Certainly in this case, there is every indication that legal action is justified.”