Last Friday, according to county court records, longtime community-figure and ousted Yeadon Borough Councilman Terry Allen McGirth, 63, was arrested for inappropriate behavior with a minor; a minor who, anonymous sources familiar with the borough, said is McGirth’s 12 year-old granddaughter.
Leslie Lewis-McGirth, Terry’s wife and co-vice chair of the Yeadon Democratic Committee and also founder of the Fresh Start Program Inc., a nonprofit youth organization where Terry also worked, did not respond to calls for comment, but sources said it was Leslie who notified authorities of the incident with the child.
Florence “Penny” McDonald, chairperson of the Yeadon Democratic Committee, said Leslie McGirth resigned her position recently but failed to provide an effective date for the resignation as promised.
In addition to working at his wife’s organization, McGirth also worked as a borough crossing guard in the days leading up to his arrest.
Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins reluctantly addressed the situation when called for comment. “It’s a personal family tragedy and the family needs a little space to bring their lives back together,” he said, continuing, “It’s an arduous situation for all those involved because we have a close-knit community. It’s a difficult time for everybody so we want to rally around the family.”
Hepkins said, “There are so many facets to these charges and that’s what makes this so difficult.” Hepkins, also a Baptist minister, said, “We’ve been keeping his family in prayer.”
Hepkins said McGirth, despite his checkered past, had shown signs of change.
“He was volunteering in the community, working with men and, subsequent to leaving Council, had shown that he was changed. He went to church and even became an ordained minister. In the last seven or eight years,” Hepkins concluded, “it seems he led a reformed life.”
“Terry McGirth has had so many opportunities to interact with children as a crossing guard, as a borough official, through Fresh Start and as an initial supporter of the Vision Charter School in Lansdowne,” another source said, “it’s a possibility” that other children have had similar experiences.
For the current alleged sexual incident, McGirth is facing a total of 15 charges, comprised of three counts of corruption of a minor, three counts of stalking, three counts of indecent exposure, three counts of harassment and three counts of unlawful contact with a minor.
McGirth was held on $100,000 bail and was unable to pay the minimum 10 percent, according to county court records.
This is not the first time McGirth has faced charges, especially charges for harassment, according to reports from over a decade ago.
In 2003, McGirth was removed from his Council seat as ordered by a judge after pleading guilty to stealing over $100,000 from a Chester County-based kidney dialysis company.
In 2008, former-Yeadon Councilwoman Terri Phifer Vaughn filed a complaint against McGirth, alleging harassment that, anonymous sources who spoke exclusively to The Spirit, said involved “forcing his tongue down” Vaughn’s throat and “inappropriate touching.”
Although it went unreported to authorities, the anonymous source familiar with the matter also said McGirth’s female neighbor once accused him of propositioning her for sexual favors in return for maintaining her lawn.
The source said, “(McGirth) told her she would never, ever have to worry about her lawn.”