It could be inserted right into the gaping cracks in the state’s Child Protection Act — a fitting rebuke to the fancy dancing that surrounded the long and lurid career of the late Rev. Bob Carlson.

Carlson, you’ll recall, was the guy everyone around the Bangor area spent years glorifying as the back-slapping, straight-talking minister who could do no wrong — only to find after he jumped off the Penobscot Narrows Bridge last November that he, in fact, did a lot wrong.

Last week’s release of a heavily redacted Maine State Police report confirmed much of what surfaced in the days immediately following Carlson’s suicide: While the community around him thought he was saving souls, he was actually devouring them.

Police investigators found that mutliple children — we’ll likely never know how many — fell victim over a period of decades to Carlson’s predatory ways.

But that’s not all they found.

Lots of people, many in high places, knew that something about this guy’s attraction to kids wasn’t quite right. Yet no one sounded the alarm until an anonymous letter alerted authorities, just before Carlson was to receive a “distinguished citizen” award from the Boy Scouts of America, that the man of God was actually the devil in disguise.

“I would appreciate it if this would be investigated,” urged the letter writer ever so respectfully.

To be sure, the investigative findings released last week provide far less insight — and draw painfully fewer conclusions — than former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s no-holds-barred probe of Penn Sate University and its football coach/child molester, Jerry Sandusky.

Still, the documents reveal that while Carlson indulged his perversions, many in his Bangor-area good-old-boys network tiptoed around him, unwilling to connect the dots even as the predatory patterns took shape right before their eyes.

We have Bob Welch, a retired Bangor police officer who now works for the University of Maine Police Department, telling an investigator how for eight months back in 2004-2005 he repeatedly saw Carlson’s “distinctive looking” Ford Crown Victoria parked several evenings per week in the darkest corner of a parking lot near Welch’s home.

“Then one time when Carlson was leaving the parking lot, Welch observed a child with him,” reported State Police Det. Dean Jackson.

Welch actually spoke to a Bangor police detective about the strange behavior at the time, Jackson continued, and “they discussed putting up surveillance cameras in the area.”

They eventually nixed that idea, however, “because Carlson always parked in the darkest areas and they felt … they would not be able to get any usable pictures.”

Usable pictures? Why not march (not tiptoe) over the Carlson’s vehicle, rap on the window and see for yourselves what’s going on?

We have Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross, who first learned from state police on Nov. 10 that they were investigating Carlson — a close friend to Ross and a longtime chaplain and visitor to the Penobscot County Jail.

Two days later, according to state police Lt. Christopher Coleman, a “troubled” Ross called Carlson and told him about the investigation. Why?

“Glenn did this for several reasons,” reported Coleman. “First he wanted to let Bob know to stay away from the jail until the matter was settled. Second, he wanted to protect the agency and himself.”

Two days after Ross tipped him off, Carlson jumped to his death.

We have Maine Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley, who was president of Husson University when Carlson served as the school’s chaplain.

For months after Carlson’s death last fall, Beardsley refused to talk to police at all. Last month, he finally sat down with state police Sgt. Troy Gardner and acknowledged that he had received a call in 2005 from a minister friend in Vermont who wanted Beardsley to be “sensitized” to the fact that Carlson “was not who he appeared to be.”

Then sometime in 2007 or 2008, Beardsley told police, he got a call from “someone outside of Husson” who told Beardsley that Carlson had participated in a “sexual relationship with someone” years ago.

The caller demanded that Beardsley call Carlson into his office and repeat the conversation they’d just had. If Beardsley didn’t, the caller threatened to “go public with the information concerning Bob and the sexual relationship.”

Beardsley immediately did what he was told, informing Carlson that “if he ever found any evidence that Bob engaged in any unlawful or inappropriate activity there would be no place for him at Husson.” (Why not, “I’ll call the cops?”)

Predictably, Carlson quickly resigned.

So who was Beardsley’s friend from Vermont and what did he say?

“He would not tell me the name of the person who called in 2005,” Gardner reported.

And who was that subsequent caller, and exactly what did he/she say?

Beardsley “advised that he couldn’t remember the name,” Gardner wrote. “And (he) advised that he had asked his secretary, who also couldn’t remember.”

Couldn’t remember? You get a call from someone alleging sexual improprieties by a college chaplain and nobody in the president’s office bothers to jot down the caller’s name or number?

What makes the state police report so unsettling is the preponderance of raised eyebrows that seemed to follow Carlson everywhere he went — right down to the two detectives in the Penobscot County Sheriff’s office who found it “rather upsetting” when Carlson asked if he could view images of child pornography from a case they were working “for research he was conducting.” (Request, thankfully, denied.)

Yet nowhere amid all this tiptoeing did anyone dig deeper, maybe put Carlson under surveillance or, perish the thought, get directly in the face of the man with the halo who always seemed to have a young boy or two in tow.

Which brings us back to Maine’s anemic Child Protection Act.

In an interview last week with the Bangor Daily News, Penobscot County District Attorney Christopher Almy got lost in his own gibberish when asked what happens if a “mandated reporter” — the statute lists 32 occupations that fall into that category — fails to report suspected child abuse.

“If there is any kind of evidence that a mandated reporter in this situation failed to report, then you have to look to see whether or not the statute is clear and says, in fact, that if there is a failure to report, whether it is a criminal offense, a civil offense or any offense at all,” Almy said. “My reading on the statute is that it is vague on that point. Vague.”

Oh really? How about the clause under “Penalty for Violations” that reads, “A person who knowingly violates a provision of this chapter commits a civil violation for which a forfeiture of not more than $500 may be adjudged.”

Sorry, Mr. D.A., but that’s anything but vague.

Nor, unfortunately, is it anywhere near tough enough to send the message that we’re talking about innocent children here — and anyone who dances around even the suspicion of sexual abuse should suffer far more than just a $500 slap on the wrist.

So here’s a challenge to the next Legislature: Give us a law that puts the fear of God (not to mention prison) into mandated reporters who, when all those dots start to look like “Help,” fail to err on the side of Maine’s children.

While we’re at it, let’s give immunity from civil liability to anyone — mandated reporter or not — who sounds the alarm in good faith when they stumble across the next Bob Carlson and know in their gut that something’s not right.

Let’s all get off our tiptoes and start chasing these animals down.

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