He posed as a doctor and a wilderness expert. Behind the facade was an accused homosexual child molester.

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Leroy N. Soetoro

Jul 23, 2021, 8:14:22 PM7/23/21

Before she recognized him as the man she believed molested her son, Shawna
Cleveland handed him a piece of chocolate.

David Menna was pushing his elderly mother in a wheelchair through Tulsa,
Oklahoma’s Woodland Hills Mall. Cleveland was passing out samples from
See’s Candies. It was Christmastime; the crowds were buzzing.

She bent down to greet the white-haired woman, then stood and caught his
gaze. Her heart sank.

It was him.

The man who said he was a doctor.

Who talked of training Navy SEALs.

Who humble-bragged about rappelling with celebrities.

By then she knew he was none of those things, that it was a backstory he’d
woven, she believed, to groom her son.

Inside, her brain screamed: “Pedophile! Pedophile!’”

But she couldn’t speak. Few had believed her the last time. Why would now
be different? Instead, she ran to the store’s back room and sat with her
head in her hands, trying not to throw up.

The first time Cleveland laid eyes on David Menna had been 10 years
earlier, in August 2007. She’d taken her son Noah to a meeting of the
Young Marines, a national youth organization he had just joined.

The group of a dozen or so boys and girls ages 8 to 18 met every Tuesday,
wearing military-style uniforms they were responsible for pressing and
starching themselves.

A soft-spoken man with wire-frame glasses sat at the sign-in table,
briefcase open, with paperwork for an upcoming camping trip. He introduced
himself to her: “Dr. Menna.”

Menna had shown up unexpectedly a few weeks before, at the annual July
Fourth veterans appreciation picnic in Chandler Park, on the banks of the
Arkansas River. He made quite an impression on the Young Marines’
commanding officer, Terry Funk.

“A wonderful event fell into our laps,” Funk wrote on the youth
organization’s website at the time.

The lanky 50-year-old with thinning brown hair had volunteered to give the
Young Marines members a lesson in rappelling. To Funk’s delight, Menna had
each kid try it right there on the cliffs in the park.

The outdoors had always been a hard sell for Noah but he was trying to
keep an open mind.
The outdoors had always been a hard sell for Noah but he was trying to
keep an open mind.
“It turns out he is certified in a number of specialties such as mountain
rescue, medical EMSA type rescue, rappelling, etc.,” Funk added a few days
later. “He had his equipment in the car.”

Release forms handed out at the August meeting identified the Young
Marines as sponsors of the camping trip, along with the “Scouts” – because
members of a local Boy Scout troop planned to attend. It was listed on the
Young Marines’ website. The Young Marines and Boy Scouts would pay Menna
directly for each of their members who wanted to attend, about $150

To Cleveland, the trip seemed like a blessing. Because she homeschooled
Noah and his three siblings, she always looked for opportunities to
introduce them to new activities and kids.

Like the Boy Scouts, the Young Marines is a nonprofit organization aimed
at promoting mental, moral and physical development of youth. Its units
are run by volunteers, often veterans, who are screened by the National
Headquarters. The Scouts, too, had a volunteer selection process that
included criminal background checks and references.

Only after things went wrong would Cleveland learn that Menna was not an
official, vetted volunteer, and the camping trip was unsanctioned. Only
then would she see both the Young Marines and the Boy Scouts turn away.

Cleveland would spend most of the next decade fighting for accountability
from Menna, as criminal and civil court cases dragged on and on; from the
Young Marines, which introduced Menna to her son and then claimed the man
was never their responsibility; from the Boy Scouts, which also denied
responsibility for Menna in court.

Menna’s story shows how easily an alleged predator can bounce from one
youth organization to another, dazzling parents and boys. The Scouts filed
for bankruptcy earlier this year because of mounting liability from
thousands of similar allegations, including one against Menna.

He eventually would be formally accused of molestation – in both Georgia
and Oklahoma – and both times he’d deny the accusations. Investigations
crumbled. Prosecutions floundered. A plea deal was struck. Records were
erased and sealed.

That left Menna with a clean background on paper. His name never appeared
on any sex offender registry. Every time he was accused, it was as if it
was the first.

If he volunteered to lead a camping trip for children today, his record
would still look clean.

Menna passed himself off as a doctor even though he never held a license.
Graduating from Emory Dental School in 1987 was enough to earn him the
title, he’d later argue in court.

By the early 1990s, the then-30-something bachelor who lived with his
parents had taken up extreme wilderness sports. Rock climbing and caving
suited his meticulous nature, according to interviews with dozens who knew
him. He turned the basement of his parents’ suburban Atlanta home into a
virtual REI store.

It helped that the Mennas lived a few hours from a caving mecca. The
geographic region at the intersection of northern Georgia, Alabama and
southern Tennessee is home to more than 14,000 caves, carved from
limestone bedrock hundreds of millions of years ago by an ancient sea.

Some of those pits resemble the stuff of nightmares, says Dennis Curry, a
retired National Park ranger who served as lieutenant of the country’s
oldest cave-and-rescue team. Pitch-black, impossibly steep, with slick,
pounding waterfalls.

Curry’s team was put through training courses from hell so they’d be able
to survive the highly technical work of saving people hundreds of feet
below the Earth’s surface.

That’s how Curry found himself approached by Menna.

“This fellow … was going on some caving trips and wanted to learn the
skills,” Curry told USA TODAY. “He came to us and my initial impression
was: educated, thoughtful, soft-spoken and very clean-cut.”

Menna began to attend clinics for first responders. On one such trip, he
stayed at Curry’s house on Lookout Mountain.

By then, Menna was marketing his new skills to youth organizations through
a company he called Wilderness Adventures. He gave demonstrations, taught
safety skills and volunteered to lead caving and rappelling trips.

“I could never have afforded to pay for what he taught me to do, or the
opportunities he gave me,” said Katie Allen, now 41.

After meeting him through a youth services charity, she worked for Menna
as a teenager, lugging gear on trips.

Menna worked his way into the groups by skillfully dropping names. One
leader would recommend him to another. And so on. Katie remembers helping
out dozens of boys.

The time Menna stayed at Curry’s house, he brought two high school aged
kids with him. One was Katie. The other, a boy. Menna stayed in the guest
room with both teens; Curry and his wife didn’t question the sleeping

Only in hindsight, Curry says, did they grow suspicious about why a single
man traveled with young people. By the time they saw a news article a
decade later detailing Noah Cleveland’s abuse allegations, they’d
developed a theory.

“This guy infiltrated his way into our genre because then he could use
those skills as legitimacy to get into these kids’ wilderness experience-
type programs,” Curry said. “He used us.”

Noah rode next to Menna in the cab of his dad’s truck headed to Osage
Hills State Park for the Labor Day outing in 2007. As the tree-lined hills
rose out of the Oklahoma plains, Noah listened while Menna talked and

In the microcosm of a boys camping trip, a leader like Menna is the
celebrity, his attention a type of special recognition. As the new kid,
Noah soaked it up.

He was slight for an 11-year-old, wiry and lean. The outdoors had always
been a hard sell – his analytical nature more suited to books and art. But
Noah was trying to keep an open mind and he was particularly interested in

He still remembers his excitement when Menna agreed to teach him. They’d
just gotten back from a hike when Menna asked what they should do next.

“Rappelling?!” Noah said under his breath.

They spent the next two hours in harnesses, descending the side of a bluff
a few yards from the mess hall. Noah could hardly believe his luck. He
paid close attention, too, when Menna warned of the danger of ticks.

Noah Cleveland says he trusted David Menna

“That was priority Number 1: making sure there were no ticks on you,”
Noah, now 24, told USA TODAY. “And if there was, to come to him.”

A little before midnight that first night, Noah remembers waking up to
find Menna in the cabin Noah shared with his dad and other kids. Robert
Cleveland, Noah’s dad, had walked up toward the dining hall to make a
phone call. Menna said he needed to inspect Noah for the tiny parasites.

He pulled down Noah’s shorts and looked at his genitals, and then said
they needed to go to his cabin next door for a more thorough check,
according to court records in the criminal case prosecuted by the Osage
County District Attorney’s Office in September 2007.

Menna’s cabin was filled with bunk beds and not much else, Noah recalls,
save the makeshift exam bed Menna had fashioned out of a sleeping mat
covered with a white sheet. That's where he told Noah to lay down, naked.

He ran a flashlight and two fingers across Noah’s skin. It felt like 45
minutes, with Menna asking him to flip over from his backside to his
front five or six times, Noah says.

Menna left Noah lying on the mattress while he informed the boy’s father
that he had found a tick, according to the court records.

When Robert Cleveland walked into the cabin, he saw his son lying naked on
the mattress on the floor, he would later testify. Menna showed him a

Cleveland thought what he witnessed was unnecessary. But, he says, Menna
had told him he was a physician, that he personally treated Sam Walton of
Walmart fame. So he let it go.

After Noah got dressed, Menna applied bug repellent lotion, starting at
Noah’s feet and then sliding his hands up Noah’s shorts, continuing over
his genitals, Robert Cleveland would later testify.

Menna also clipped Noah’s toenails.

The next day, Robert Cleveland was called away on a work emergency. He
remembers asking other adults to keep an eye on Noah until he returned.

The tick checks continued. Menna stressed their importance at a
presentation on survival skills in the mess hall. Noah felt his head
tingle. He raised his hand, worried he had more ticks. Again, he was taken
to a cabin, this time in the presence of an assistant scoutmaster.

That father would later testify that he saw ticks in Noah’s hair. And
then, Menna again went to Noah’s groin. He rubbed the boy’s penis with his
finger, lifting it to look in every crevice, according to Noah and notes
that his mother later took while preparing for the criminal investigation.
Ticks like to get up there, Menna said.

It made Noah uncomfortable. But the presence of adults, and the fact that
Menna was so open about it, led him to believe nothing was wrong.

“My dad knows this is happening, (Menna is) a physician ... so it’s got to
be OK,” Noah said. “Then you’re lying there like, ‘God, this is taking a
very long time.’ ”

At the next Young Marines meeting two weeks later, Shawna Cleveland
remembers sitting at a picnic table with other parents when an adult who
went on the Labor Day camping trip shared something disturbing: He’d seen
Menna massaging another boy, Sam McCormick, while Sam was naked.

Sam was 12 and new to the Young Marines. The trip was his first outing as
well. Now 26, Sam remembers waking up one night with a stomachache. Menna
was the person to seek out for help, he’d been told. That’s how he wound
up in Menna’s cabin in the middle of the night.

Sam says he was looking for Ibuprofen, but Menna clipped his fingernails
and toenails, then stripped him down for a tick check.

“He put bug repellent on me; he put that literally everywhere,” Sam told
USA TODAY. “He was definitely touching me inappropriately.”

Sam remembers another adult in the room. His presence, he says, was

“I didn’t know it was inappropriate,” Sam said. “I didn’t know any

Hearing Sam’s story recounted at the picnic table, Cleveland was
incredulous: How could anything like that happen?

Then the horror began to sink in.

She called her husband at work and repeated what she’d heard. It was like
a switch flipped on – she could hear the realization dawn in his voice.
That’s when he told her for the first time what he’d witnessed: Noah naked
on a mattress. Menna waving a flashlight. The toenail clipping.

It no longer seemed medical. The Clevelands started to believe Noah had
been molested.

After years of reliving the details of that weekend in his head, Noah
feels certain that all of it was calculated. It was why Menna made them
repeat the Scout Oath before every meal. Why he made such an effort to
befriend Noah. Why he took pains to create the medical veneer.

“The way he went about it wasn’t designed to make me uncomfortable,” Noah
said. “It was designed to do exactly the opposite: To build a relationship
and make me believe he is someone I can trust.”

Katie Allen remembers teaching dozens of boys wilderness skills alongside
David Menna.
Shawna and Robert stayed up late into the night, talking. That’s when
Shawna also started writing. She’d keep it up for the next few years,
sometimes full diary entries, other times scribbled reminders, to-do's and
Bible verses.

“Writing this helps me get it into my brain and understand it ... there is
so much to take in, remember and grasp.”

Within the week, the couple returned to Osage Hills State Park, where they
filed a report with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and Lt.
Mike Vaught, the ranger in charge of investigating crimes in the park.

When they got home, they sat Noah down and explained what had happened.

Noah met with a counselor for a forensic interview, part of the criminal
investigation. Her ring caught his eye, a cross that turned from red to
gold when the light hit it. As a boy raised in the church, taught to look
out for God’s will, that seemed meaningful to him.

Shawna Cleveland was impressed by the woman’s demeanor – warm and smiling.
But when it was time for Noah to enter the interview room without her, her
usually calm kid was very serious. She turned away before he could see she
was crying.

“As a parent, you never dream you’ll have to go through something like
this. I suppose that is universal to anything horrible that happens to
people. It’s almost like a dream.”

The report and Noah’s interview have been sealed at Menna’s request. USA
TODAY was able to piece together key details from criminal and civil court

According to those records, the forensic interviewer said that Noah told
her Menna felt his genitals and put bug repellent on his penis, testicles
and buttocks. In her expert opinion, she testified during the preliminary
hearing, Noah’s experience was consistent with child abuse.

On Sept. 21, 2007, three weeks after the trip, Shawna Cleveland woke up
hoping for a normal day. She hadn’t yet given up on whatever normal used
to mean. Her little girl was turning 9. So, too, was her friend. Cleveland
still needed to pick up a gift before the party.

She started making oatmeal for the kids and then woke Noah up. He seemed
sad. Burdened by a heavy, invisible weight.

He said he was fine. She rubbed his back. What could she say?

Cleveland knew Menna had another camping trip scheduled for that weekend.
She wanted to stop it – the thought of him out in the woods again with
young boys chilled her. She urged Vaught, the park ranger, to do what he

That evening Vaught called. Menna would be charged with two counts of lewd
molestation, one involving Noah, the other Sam McCormick. Cleveland felt
like the lieutenant had worked a miracle.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office arrived at Robbers Cave State Park late
that same night and took Menna into custody in view of the campers. He was
driven to the county jail, according to a booking report, where he told
arresting officers he was a retired investor and didn’t know his Social
Security number. He was held for two days before posting $50,000 bail.

Cleveland told her son he had done God’s work. That he’d saved a group of
kids that weekend.

The rebuke came fast. Cleveland remembers being labeled a troublemaker and
blamed for ruining the camping trip. She was told she had humiliated Dr.
Menna. And worse, that she was traumatizing her own son. She wrote in her

“Do you know what happens if you allege that a leader in a nationally
recognized youth organization is a predator or that you believe your child
has been molested? Do you think they would search for the truth? Do you
think they would offer you empathy and act concerned or caring? You would
be quite mistaken. They will do all they can to protect and elevate
themselves and to put you down.”

Today Funk, the commanding officer, remembers hearing about the
allegations following the Labor Day trip and reporting them up the chain
of command with Young Marines. But more as an FYI, he says, than a serious

After charges were filed against David Menna, Shawna Cleveland found
herself ostracized by other parents and the youth organizations she
believed should have protected her son, Noah.

After charges were filed against David Menna, Shawna Cleveland found
herself ostracized by other parents and the youth organizations she
believed should have protected her son, Noah.


Because he heard Noah’s dad was in the room for at least one of the tick
checks, Funk told USA TODAY, he assumed the whole thing was bogus,
concocted by the boy's parents.

He and the other parents “were on the doctor’s side,” he said. Some
continued to go on trips with Menna. “Every other person I talked to
thought it was total B.S.”

The civil suit Noah's parents later filed in 2009, Funk said, angered
other parents.

“Why would you do this to a little boy if you’re just looking for money or
whatever?” he asked.

As Menna’s arrest made local headlines, Cleveland was anxious but pleased.
A friend who worked as a victim’s advocate had pushed them to tell their
story before someone else did. Plus, it might encourage others to come

In late September, the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise ran a story
headlined “Tulsa man arrested in connection with alleged molestation at
youth camp-out.” Months later, comments began to pop up in the online

The first, by a user named DT Lackey in Lawrenceville, Georgia, appeared
Dec. 4, 2007: “This is the same person who victimized young boys in the
Atlanta, Georgia area in 1993-94. No one here would come forth to accuse

Cleveland's fears that Menna could have done this all before became more

“I’m convinced this isn’t the very first child he’s violated and Noah may
not be the last.”

It had been more than a decade since Dan Lackey met David Menna, but he
was still angry when he discovered the news story out of Oklahoma.

He’d gotten to know Menna back in 1993, at a time when tensions were high
at home. He and his wife, Lynn, were fighting and failing to hide it from
their five kids. They were headed for divorce.

Dan Lackey later wondered if Menna could sense their distraction, if
that’s what drew him to them.

They met him at church. Menna’s parents were members of Holy Cross
Catholic Church outside Atlanta. Dan and Lynn were, too; they sent their
oldest boys to Catholic school and enrolled them in the church-affiliated
Boy Scout troop.

Lynn took Matt, then 14, to a presentation by Menna on rappelling. One
outdoors trip led to more, so many they blur. Sometimes Dan would join,
sometimes it was just Matt or his brother Grant, who was 11.

They got close fast. Menna would often drop by the house. Dan Lackey says
he always had a nagging feeling that Menna had an eye on his wife. But the
two men were friendly; they once went skydiving together.

“He seemed like a nice guy,” Lackey said. “Lot of big talk. But I thought
he was OK.”

Grant Lackey, left, started out as a Cub Scout, then later met David Menna
through a church-affiliated Boy Scout troop.
Menna brought them presents. He gave Grant a perfectly tailored caving
suit. He always made sure the Lackey boys had the best harnesses.

He’d start campfires with homemade “Betty Crocker” bombs – a frosting
container filled with shaved magnesium attached to a detonator. He let the
boys shoot bowling pins with semi-automatic rifles.

And he showered them with attention.

Lackey remembers that on one trip, when they got to the campsite Menna’s
voice “got this kind of excited, higher pitch: ‘Who wants to stay in Dr.
Menna’s tent tonight?’ ”

Grant would go on to sleep in Menna’s tent on several occasions. While
Menna would act as Matt’s Confirmation sponsor at church, Grant became the
favorite. He was athletic and excelled at rappelling and climbing. Menna
had Grant help demonstrate skills to different groups – an energetic

Grant found himself going on trips without his dad or brother. That was
when Grant says Menna brought out the baby powder.

Menna was insistent, Grant, now 37, remembers. Grant had to put the baby
powder on his groin to prevent chafing from the harness. Menna would help.

Grant says he was too young then to understand what was happening to his
body. But he remembers Menna masturbated him to the point where he felt
the urge to pee; then Grant says Menna expected the same in return.

“He’d say, ‘Oh well you know you’re going to get chafed.’ That’s his big
word – ‘chafe, chafe, chafe.’ It’s disgusting,” Grant told USA TODAY.
“Then he would make you do it to him.”

Matt vividly remembers the baby powder, too. But he was a teenager with a
rebellious streak. He had no problem telling Menna to back off. Grant,
still a boy, didn’t know how to make it stop.

In 1995, Grant Lackey spoke up for the first time, accusing David Menna of
abusing him. He would later tell authorities the abuse happened at least
twice but today he recalls more than a dozen instances.
Grant would later tell authorities the abuse happened at least twice.
Today he says he remembers more than a dozen instances.

It was 1995 when Grant spoke up for the first time. The timing couldn’t
have been worse. By then, Dan and Lynn were in the midst of asset and
custody disputes.

Menna had become so thoroughly embedded in the Lackey family’s drama that
he was called to the stand to testify in the divorce case. He evaded
questions and said he didn’t recall nearly 120 times. That testimony
offers a rare glimpse into his character.

Pressed repeatedly about his education, Menna said he had a degree in
dental surgery from Emory University.

“Do you have any other advanced training or education?” asked Bruce
Callner, Dan Lackey’s attorney.

“I do.”

“Describe it.”

“I have done a lot of different course work that is advanced. So,
specifically, what would you like to know?”

“Well, all the course work that you’ve done.”

“All the course work I’ve done since then? I don’t recall all of it, sir.”

The judge declared Menna a hostile witness, allowing Callner to ask
leading questions.

“Have you ever been a member of the United States Armed Services?”


Asked if he had special training in weaponry, Menna said yes, then
couldn’t recall what it was.

Menna admitted he didn’t hold a dental license.

Asked whether he felt close to the Lackey children, Menna said, “I felt as
though I was being a friend to them.”

Years later, Noah’s mom, Shawna Cleveland, would learn of Grant’s case
through Vaught, the park ranger. He didn’t disclose much, she remembers,
except that the allegations were strikingly similar to Noah’s – but worse.

She didn’t know that the Lackeys had struggled to get law enforcement to
take Grant’s information seriously, that the response of Georgia’s
criminal justice system to Menna’s behavior had foreshadowed her family’s
own experience.

In May 1995, Dan Lackey had reported everything to DeKalb police and to
the state’s Division of Family and Child Services. The division filed a
report with DeKalb police eight days later saying it had received a report
from a child alleging: “(W)hile on a camping trip with his Scout Group a
worker named David Menna put talcum powder on his genitals. The child
stated that Mr. Menna did this to other boys also.”

USA TODAY found three other agencies in Georgia also recorded reports of
child molestation against Menna in the 1990s: a second police department,
a sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. The agencies
largely denied requests to review the reports citing victim’s privacy
laws, making it impossible to determine whether all of the allegations
were related to Grant or if they included other potential victims.

The lack of public access to those reports has helped shield Menna’s
history not only from the media, but from parents and youth organizations.

USA TODAY uncovered pieces of the reports, including limited records from
a Georgia Bureau of Investigations file. The bureau runs the Georgia sex
offender registry and steps in to help with criminal investigations when
invited by law enforcement agencies.

The bureau’s file shows that Grant’s case ultimately was referred to the
Hall County Sheriff’s Office. As of late June 1995, according to the file,
Menna was not licensed to practice medicine in the state of Georgia. His
business, Wilderness Adventures, was not registered with the secretary of
state’s office.

The bureau opened its criminal case June 30. That same day, a sheriff’s
department investigator and bureau agent interviewed a friend of Grant’s,
Ben Matthews, who was 12.

“I was terrified of the experience,” Ben, now 38, told USA TODAY.
“Basically, I told the GBI investigators whatever it took to get them to
leave me alone.”

What Ben didn’t say then was that he had seen Menna rub baby powder on
Grant’s groin. After a day of caving in northeast Alabama, the three
shared a motel room.

“I was watching ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ when this event occurred on the
bed next to me,” Ben said. “It seemed almost like a routine he and Grant

After Menna finished with Grant, Ben remembers Menna offering to rub the
baby powder on him too. He said no.

It would be years before he told anyone – first a girlfriend, then his

“My voice quakes,” Ben said, “because I do have an immense amount of guilt
about this if Dr. Menna was able to pervade and do worse to kids.”

By the time Menna led the camping trips in Georgia, Boy Scouts of America
volunteers were required to complete a form. By 1994, volunteers also had
to undergo a background check.

Menna was never made to do either.

The Scouts had long been aware of the risk of child abuse within its
ranks. Since the 1920s, the organization has tracked thousands “designated
as ineligible for participation in Scouting for reasons related to
allegations of child abuse” via an internal list dubbed the “ineligible
volunteer” files. ­­­

Boy Scouts of America told USA TODAY that Menna is on that list today but
declined to specify when he was added.

The scouting organization said that it is aware that “in the early 90s,
Mr. Menna’s services as a wilderness expert and supplier of equipment for
outdoor activities were utilized by at least one Scout troop in Georgia.”

“As soon as the troop was advised that Mr. Menna was not an approved
vendor, the troop terminated its relationship with Mr. Menna,” the
statement continued. “We are disgusted by his described behavior. It is
horrifying that Mr. Menna impersonated a physician to harm innocent

The day after investigators interviewed Ben about Grant, they asked the
regional Boy Scouts council for a full list of boys who’d had contact with

Chuck Keathley, the Scouts’ field services director at the time, told them
his office had been contacted about Menna several times, according to the
Georgia Bureau of Investigation records.

In many group photos taken through the years, David Menna appears in the
back, all but obscured by one of the youths.
In many group photos taken through the years, David Menna appears in the
back, all but obscured by one of the youths.
Keathley was quoted as telling investigators he was “familiar with a
conflict that had arisen while Menna was participating with the Boy Scouts
in regard to a fabrication that he was a doctor.”

Keith Lawder, who worked with the Boy Scouts at Simpsonwood Methodist
Church, told investigators that Menna had taken Scouts on several high
adventure outings before parents raised concerns, the bureau records show.
He also told them that Menna refused to complete a volunteer form.

“I always had the feeling that there was more to the story than I knew,”
Lawder was quoted as saying in the bureau files. “I had concerns but could
never find specifics.”

Another volunteer, Wayne Camp, told the bureau Menna found workarounds to
get close to young members, violating Scout policy.

“He would call parents and children on the side and get information about
trips that we were going to be taking, and he would just show up,” Camp

Once, Camp said, Menna turned up at a family campout uninvited. A mother
found Menna and four children under a tarp away from the rest of the
group. On another outing, Camp said, Menna planned to have a child with
asthma stay alone in a room with him.

Lawder and Camp declined multiple requests from USA TODAY for comment,
saying they had nothing to add to the bureau’s file.

The report says Camp asked the district executive of Boy Scouts to look
into Menna. Eventually Camp was sent an Adult Leader Form for Menna to
complete, but he said Menna refused.

Camp told investigators that when he asked Menna to go through Youth
Protection training, Menna told him: “All they do is to watch out for
people like me.”

Despite the mounting evidence, Grant’s case languished.

In January 1997, nearly two years after the case was opened, investigators
rang Menna’s doorbell. A man who fit his description opened the curtain on
the glass next to the door, according to the bureau’s file, then retreated
into the house.

Then, through his attorney, Menna declined to be interviewed without a

Six months later the case was closed with no charges filed against him by
either agency. Both the bureau and Hall County Sheriff’s Department
declined USA TODAY’s request to explain why.

Around that time, Menna disappeared. His parents moved to Tulsa, according
to real estate records.

“All of a sudden he was just gone,” Katie Allen recalls.

The more Cleveland learned, the more frightened and paranoid she became.

She heard about a mom from a neighboring Boy Scout troop who pulled her
kids out of the program after unsettling interactions with Menna. And
about a scoutmaster who tried, and failed, to get Menna to submit to a
background check.

“I feel so sick. Such an icky creepy feeling. Unanswered questions. What
was Menna’s goal?”

Then there were the online comments on the news articles about Menna’s
arrest. Dozens more appeared suggesting Menna had followed a circuitous
path from Georgia to Canada and on to Oklahoma, leaving suspicion in his

He was at Skeleton Lake Scout Camp in Edmonton, Canada, starting in about

He was at Birch Bay Ranch in Alberta, Canada, in 2000.

He popped up at two churches in Tulsa in 2006.

Cleveland says she heard that Menna had appeared at another Tulsa church a
few years earlier, where similar allegations arose concerning young boys.
According to her notes, she spoke to the church family several times. They
said they wanted to help – but not if it meant pressing charges.

“This is so hard – if no one stands up – there will most certainly be
others who will be victims.”

Based on interviews with more than two dozen people who knew him, Menna
led outings with Scouts and other youth organizations countless times,
putting him in close contact with hundreds of children over the years.

With help from her friend, the victims’ advocate, Cleveland started to
understand grooming – how predators build trust with children and parents
alike. How they exploit that trust as a cover for their actions. And how
it can build a foundation for more aggressive forms of sexual abuse.

Katie Allen said as she got older, she began to question David Menna’s
behavior around the boys.
Katie Allen said as she got older, she began to question David Menna’s
behavior around the boys.
She started to worry that Noah might have experienced more than he let on.
Or that he’d narrowly escaped it.

There were darker things she would not hear about for years, until USA
TODAY reached out to her.

Katie, the outdoor enthusiast who worked with Menna as a teenager, said he
never touched her. But as she got older, she began to question Menna’s
behavior around the boys.

One trip in particular stands out: Menna insisted on sleeping with a boy
about her age in the upper berth of a U-Haul truck they’d rented. She was
relegated to a tent outside, by herself.

Thinking back, Katie can remember several times when that same boy stayed
in tents with Menna, just the two of them.

That boy, now an adult, told USA TODAY he was abused by Menna over the
course of several years beginning when he was around 13. USA TODAY
generally does not name individuals who say they were the victims of sex
crimes unless they choose to be identified.

The abuse began in much the same way it did with Noah and Grant, the boy
said, with tick checks and warnings about chafing. But over the years, he
alleges, it progressed to anal sex – and continued until he went away to

As Noah’s case dragged on, his mother questioned whether pressing charges
had been the right decision.

Preliminary hearings were held six months after Menna’s arrest, at the
courthouse in rural Pawhuska, where toe tips of cowboy boots frequently
set off the metal detector. It was a 2½-hour round trip from Tulsa for the

When Noah was called to testify, Shawna was terrified. As an adult, she
couldn’t imagine telling a courtroom about the kinds of things her son had
experienced, let alone withstanding cross-examination as an 11-year-old.

“He understands that it’s not just for him – but for all the other
potential boys who would be Menna’s future victims.”

USA TODAY requested hearing transcripts only to be told a month later that
a judge had ordered them sealed during a hearing following that request.
USA TODAY later went to court and was granted access before the last of
the records were set to be expunged.

Noah Cleveland returned to Osage Hills State Park with USA TODAY. “The way
he went about it wasn’t designed to make me uncomfortable,” he said. “It
was designed to do exactly the opposite: To build a relationship and make
me believe he is someone I can trust.”
At the hearing, Noah was called to the stand in front of Menna and
directed to identify the man who abused him.

In thinking back, Noah says it felt like Menna’s attorney was trying to
trip him up on the dates and details.

“You can't remember whether it was day or night, but you think it was
daytime?” Menna’s attorney, Darrel Bolton, asked.

“Yes, sir,” Noah said.

When Noah explained that he didn’t know he was abused until his parents
told him, the defense pounced.

“Do you remember when he told you that?” Bolton asked.

“No, sir,” Noah said.

“You don’t remember? Was your answer that you don’ remember when?”

“Yes, sir.”

Bolton insisted that Menna’s actions constituted first aid and that he
was, in fact, a doctor. He also hammered on the fact that Noah’s dad
didn’t speak up at the time, that he left the camping trip to handle a
work emergency, that he invited Menna to their church. Menna, his attorney
said, denied he had done anything wrong.

Shawna Cleveland remembers feeling personally attacked.

“You go to court and you get in trouble because you know, ‘Who told your
kid he was molested?’ ” she said. “They make you the bad guy ... and he’s
somehow the innocent victim.”

Still more upsetting was the Young Marines’ support of Menna. In the
courtroom, Shawna and Robert Cleveland both recall Funk giving Menna a
hug, slapping him on the back.

Funk told USA TODAY he doesn’t remember going to court. Asked whether he
had any concerns that Menna could have molested children, Funk said, “I
don’t know if he did or not.”

“We didn’t ever have to know that because he wasn’t associated with us,”
he added.

Sam originally appeared in the case file, too, listed as the victim in one
of the molestation counts. But his family moved away and, by August 2008 –
a few months after the preliminary hearings – his name had been removed.

Dan Lackey, Grant’s dad, had lost track of Menna for years until he
spotted the news story about the Oklahoma arrest. That’s when he contacted
law enforcement in Oklahoma to relay the similarities to what had happened
with his son.

Lackey emailed Vaught, asking him to let him know if “there is anything we
can do to help.” According to criminal court records, Lackey wrote a
three-page letter that was provided to the court and Menna’s defense team
in January 2009.

Dan and Grant Lackey were added as additional witnesses to the case but
never called.

Following the preliminary hearing in the Oklahoma case, the judge ruled
that four of five counts could proceed to trial. Multiple continuances,
many requested by Menna, pushed the trial date to April 2010 – 2½ years
after the Clevelands had filed their police report.

By then Shawna Cleveland was exhausted. The anxiety in the house was
palpable. It was hard to keep focus, especially on homeschooling Noah and
his three siblings.

“I think Noah felt very much like he had to caretake me,” she says today.
“He felt like things were out of control.”

Just as the jury trial was about to begin, the assistant district attorney
came to the family with a plea deal he urged them to take.

It was generous to Menna, Cleveland thought. Far too generous.

Menna would be allowed to plead no contest to one count of practicing
medicine without a license. The lewd molestation charges would be
dismissed outright. Instead of serving up to 40 years, he’d do two years
of probation.

In an email to Shawna, the Clevelands' attorneys said it was apparent the
DA’s office didn’t believe it could get a conviction. And without the
prosecutors’ support of the case, they didn’t see many options.

Reluctantly, the Clevelands agreed to the deal.

David Keesling, one of the Clevelands’ attorneys, told USA TODAY: “In my
opinion this was a guy that skated by on a pretty egregious sex offense.”

The Clevelands did get one demand included in the agreement: Menna would
be barred from working with children’s groups during his probation.

“It is our hope that other young boys be spared what Noah and others
previous to him have experienced at the hands of a man who derives
pleasure in posing as a doctor and placing his hands on the genitals of
pre-pubescent boys, all while associating himself with organizations that
were created to mold young boys into productive, self-assured gentleman,”
they said, according to notes the family took about their statements from
the time.

In his own notes, Noah said he prayed that his would be a story of
encouragement. He wrote that God had called him to protect other boys.

“One preditor [sic] put away means hundreds of potential victims saved.”

Amid the criminal case delays, the Clevelands had filed their civil suit
against Menna, Funk, the Young Marines and the Boy Scouts of America. They
sought damages “in excess of $10,000” for assault and battery, intentional
infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

It was during the civil case that the Boy Scouts and Young Marines showed
their hand, arguing that Noah’s safety was not their responsibility.

They didn’t organize the camping trip, they said in motions. Plus, Menna
was never part of either group, so their failure to register him as an
official volunteer or run a background check was not a problem.

In a statement to USA TODAY, the Young Marines said “adults who accompany
the youth members to any Young Marines sponsored event or activity are all
screened and registered as Adult Volunteers.”

That screening process includes “an application, three letters of
recommendation, a national background check, approval by the local unit
leaders, and an individual screening by the Headquarters Young Marines,”
the statement continued.

But those safeguards did not come into play for the Labor Day trip. The
group has emphasized Menna was not a volunteer and the trip was not a
Young Marines event.

In a motion seeking to get the case against them dismissed, the Scouts
took it a step further. Even if Menna was their responsibility, they said,
they had no way of knowing whether he had a propensity for molesting boys.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation records obtained by USA TODAY show that
Boy Scout leaders had disclosed child molestation allegations against
Menna to law enforcement years before. But Shawna Cleveland and the
family’s attorneys say they never saw those records make their way into
their case.

Without that kind of concrete evidence on hand, the case against the
Scouts was thrown out. The civil case against Funk was also dismissed, the
judge ruling he qualified for immunity through a state law that protects

That left Menna and the Young Marines as the only defendants.

Menna’s probation in the criminal case ended in March 2012 and the judge
granted his request to expunge the case.

By 2014, the Clevelands were running out of steam. The civil case was
hemorrhaging time and money. It had been five years since they filed,
seven since the ill-fated camping trip. Noah was 18 and finishing high
school. Shawna and Robert were formally separated.

They gave up, settling with the Young Marines for $750, with no admission
of liability, and dropped the case against Menna.

On a recent afternoon, Shawna and Noah sit quietly in a booth at the back
of a craft coffee and cocktails place in downtown Tulsa.

They don’t talk about it much anymore, the camping trip that upended their
lives. But Shawna wasn’t surprised to hear a USA TODAY reporter had
learned of yet another allegation of abuse against Menna from a former Boy
Scout in Georgia. Or how it was that allegation that led the reporter to

Jacob, who asked not to use his full name, says Menna molested him in 1992
in Georgia, using baby powder on him, too. Jacob didn’t tell anyone until
last year, when he saw TV ads from a group of attorneys, Abused in
Scouting, representing survivors seeking compensation in the Boy Scout’s
current bankruptcy proceedings.

He’s one of the tens of thousands who have come forward ahead of a Nov. 16
deadline for victims to file claims. Many of the allegations of abuse
behind those claims date back decades, from older men telling their
stories for the first time.

These days, Shawna is eager to support the others who have accused Menna
of molesting them.

“How’s Grant doing? Is he OK?” she asks. “Tell Sam he can talk to me. He
can call Mrs. Cleveland anytime if he has questions.”

Grant is working as a radiology technician at Stanford University and
teaches at a community college, and Sam and Jacob have careers in the

Shawna holds it together until Noah leaves for work. He’s waiting tables
at a different restaurant while getting an idea for a real estate rental
company off the ground.

When he walks out, her emotions break free. The years of guilt and anger
and worry. And the tears.

David Menna is mowing the backyard of the house he shares with his mother
in south Tulsa, not far from Shawna Cleveland’s home. She drives by daily
on her way to work, often catching a glimpse of Menna’s car in the

On this day, as a USA TODAY reporter arrives, a school bus drops off a
half-dozen kids. They amble to their respective houses, mostly two-story
brick with picturesque front yards.

Menna comes around the front to empty his grass bag, shaking clippings
into the storm drain. His baggy blue jeans and flannel shirt are dirty
from yard work, his hair much whiter than in the booking photo taken more
than a decade earlier at the Osage County jail.

A reporter’s question about the sexual abuse allegations seems to strike
him as surprising – but not out of left field.

“From many years ago?” he asks.

After explaining that USA TODAY had heard multiple allegations – claims of
abuse that span at least 15 years – his stare widens.

“I don’t think there’s much of a story there,” he says, and goes back

David Menna lives in a Tulsa neighborhood, not far from Shawna Cleveland's
Handwriting in the photo illustration and throughout this story is drawn
from Shawna Cleveland's journals and notes. Design by Mara Corbett.

Contributing: Brett Murphy of USA TODAY and freelance reporter Andrea

Cara Kelly is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team, focusing
primarily on pop culture, consumer news and sexual violence. Contact her
at cara...@usatoday.com, @carareports or CaraKelly on WhatsApp.

Published 3:01 AM PDT Oct. 22, 2020 Updated 2:58 PM PST Jan. 26, 2021

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Thank you for cleaning up the disaster of the 2008-2017 Obama / Biden
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Under Barack Obama's leadership, the United States of America became the
The World According To Garp. Obama sold out heterosexuals for Hollywood
queer liberal democrat donors.

President Trump boosted the economy, reduced illegal invasions, appointed
dozens of judges and three SCOTUS justices.
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