August 30, 2012

LePage picks controversial commissioner for Board of Education

Bill Beardsley, who faces questions about his handling of sex-abuse allegations at Husson College, now faces a Sept. 5 confirmation hearing.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Gov. Paul LePage has nominated outgoing Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley to become a member of the Maine Board of Education.

Beardsley, a former president of Husson College and Republican gubernatorial candidate, is leaving his position in LePage's Cabinet because of the consolidation of two state agencies: the departments of Conservation and Agriculture. The merger takes effect Thursday.

Earlier this month, LePage expressed "full confidence" in Beardsley despite questions about his handling of sexual abuse allegations against a former chaplain at Husson.

Beardsley was told years ago that the Rev. Bob Carlson, who was the chaplain at Husson from 1995 to 2006, sexually abused several children over 40 years, according to a person interviewed by the Maine State Police. Soon after police began investigating Carlson, he committed suicide by jumping off the Penobscot Narrows Bridge on Nov. 13.

Beardsley, who would have been required to report such allegations, said he was warned about inappropriate sexual relationships involving Carlson but did not know minors were involved. "I absolutely had no knowledge of any unlawful activity by Rev. Bob Carlson," he told The Portland Press Herald early this month.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage's spokeswoman, said early this month that the governor has "the utmost confidence" in Beardsley.

Beardsley is one of a long list of Mainers who will be in Augusta next week for legislative confirmation hearings to state boards and commissions.

Also nominated to the Board of Education are Peter E. Geiger of Lewiston and Ande A. Smith of North Yarmouth. The hearing for the nominations will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Room 202 of the Cross Building.

Members of the Board of Education are paid $55 per day while attending board meetings and doing other board business. The state also covers expenses.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

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