BANGOR, Maine — There is no official record that the Rev. Robert Carlson “ever took a class” through the New York Theological Seminary but it appears he did earn a degree, seminary President Dale Irvin said Monday.
A Master of Professional Studies diploma in Carlson’s name from New York Theological Seminary is included in the heavily redacted 104-page Maine State Police report released last week that incriminates him as a serial child sex abuser.
Carlson committed suicide in November shortly after learning he was under investigation by state police for alleged child sexual abuse involving a boy.
The eight-month investigation revealed that Carlson sexually abused numerous children.
The Bangor Daily News published a story in January about Carlson’s work and educational background, and at that time Irvin said the New York seminary did not have any records that a Robert T. Carlson was ever enrolled there.
That is still true, but in the time since the story ran, additional information has surfaced, including a graduation program from 1986 that lists Carlson’s name, the seminary president said this week.
Irvin said a former administrator apparently set up an affiliation with Bangor Theological Seminary and it appears the diploma was issued through that partnership.
“He’s got a legitimate degree, but I can’t tell you anything about the program,” Irvin said. “I don’t have his name in any student records here.”
Keith Russell was president of New York Theological Seminary in the mid-1980s and remains employed, but “he doesn’t have any memory of [the partnership program with Bangor]” and doesn’t remember signing the diploma, Irvin said.
“I’m in no position to say it was fraudulent, … but it is irregular,” Irvin added.
A resume Carlson submitted to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, where he was a volunteer instructor for more than 25 years, apparently contained incorrect information.
On the resume, which was provided to the BDN by John Rogers, the academy’s director, Carlson listed himself as a “trainer hostage negotiator” for the New York Police Department in 1972, but police officials in the Big Apple said he was never an employee.
A background check was not done when he started at the police academy in Maine because “at the time, he was a captain at the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office,” Rogers said.
Carlson taught Interpersonal Communications and the last time he was in front of a class of Maine Criminal Justice Academy cadets was on Nov. 3, 2011, just 10 days before he jumped to his death from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.