Maryland diocese asks bishop involved in fatal DUI to resign

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook was involved in a fatal hit-and-run and was charged with drunk driving. Photo via Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

(Reuters) The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has asked a bishop who is accused of killing a cyclist while driving drunk to resign her position, saying she was no longer able to function effectively.

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook was involved in a fatal hit-and-run and was charged with drunk driving. Photo via Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook was involved in a fatal hit-and-run and was charged with drunk driving. Photo via Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, the diocese’s first female bishop and second highest official, is charged with manslaughter in the Dec. 27 hit-and-run death of cyclist Tom Palermo in Baltimore.

In a letter to Cook dated Monday, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said it had unanimously agreed to ask for her resignation.

Her attorney, David Irwin, said he received the letter on Wednesday and discussed it with his client but did not yet have a public comment.

Cook, 58, who is free on bail, is attending an in-patient alcohol treatment facility, her lawyer has said.

She is also charged with drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and causing an accident due to texting while driving.

Cook left the crash scene and returned about 30 minutes later, according to court documents. A breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.22, almost three times Maryland’s 0.08 limit.

A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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  • Unless the woman is in a dilemma over an insurance issue, I cannot imagine why her resignation was not proffered while she was in the City jail.

  • A very sad story.
    People ask, “But where will you get your morals without a God?”
    Well – news flash – I rarely see evidence that religious people
    are any better at morality than Atheists.

  • How is a blood-alcohol level of 0.22 almost three times Maryland’s 0.8 limit? Is there a typo there, should it be 0.08? Just curious.

  • While not a welcomed reality, the fact is the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland (and any other one, for that matter) cannot summarily fire clergy without due process according to church (canon) law. More details (in plain language) about the somewhat labyrinthine Title IV Ecclesiastical Disciplinary process are available here:

  • Yes, it should be 0.08, not 0.8, which would likely/definitely kill you. The error was in the original Reuters article.

  • Your remarks are non sequitur.

    What reason would Cook have for not tendering her resignation? I can appreciate some personal dilemmas, but, honestly, embarrassment should have been sufficient aside from that to induce her to resign.

  • Because Jesus forgives. I know she is archbishop of a liberal demomination but if she believes in Jesus then she is already forgiven, and should not have to resign. We also don’t know much about the byciclist. He could have been a Democrat or athiest, so it’s not as much of a sin to run them over.

  • Wow, Ronald. The fact that you could make such a crass, insensitive, vile remark after someone has lost their life…Well.That said a lot about you, doesn’t it?

  • Laurence, I am called upon to spread the gospel of Christ’s love. Perhaps I express myself in a flawed way, I don’t know. But I do know that if that is true, I am Forgiven. I was Forgiven thousands of years before I was even born, through His great sacrifice!

  • Meredith Gould, why did you not reveal here that your private company is being paid by Bishop Sutton for you to post these comments. Would it not also be appropriate for you to have revealed that this private company arrangement includes you working with the Rev. Canon Daniel J. Webster, canon for evangelism and ministry development in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Further, it is not of relevance to your supposed “independent opinion” here that you live in an apartment across the hall from the Rev. Dan Webster? And although you have separate apartments, you have been married to “RevWeb” since November 2011? Would this not be an honest and transparent way to use in your social media defending of Bishop Jefferts Schori and Bishop Sutton?
    Did your very own husband not once write the following as Director of Communications for the Episcopalian Diocese of Utah some years ago: “It is about power and control. It is about “doing it my way.” It has little to do with biblical orthodoxy and apostasy. It comes down to winners and losers. As Anglicans, it probably should be no surprise if we look at our history. Murder, assassination, trials, incarceration, slander, mayhem have all been used to resolve internal church disputes.”
    So just why does Bishop Sutton need a “crisis communications consultant” if he and the Episcopal Church have nothing to hide? And why does he hire a private company owned by the wife of an Episcopalian priest who is a communications expert and should be doing the job himself?
    You stated to the Baltimore Brew that, your gloating words, “I’m not even an Episcopalian!” In fact, you are a Catholic, at least a former Catholic according to Catholic records showing the annulments of your two previous marriages. And your husband, Daniel J. Jeffrey’s was also a Catholic before he divorced and started to work for the Episcopal Church.

  • This is an example of how corrupt Bishop Jefferts Schori and Bishop Sutton are. Read read this comment that Meredith Gould posted a year ago on YouTube as a response to Heather Cook’s campaign message to become a bishop:
    “Terrific message, well delivered, Heather. Working with you on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton was both pleasure and privilege. I appreciated your vision, your willingness to explore new ways of reaching and, most of all, your extraordinary ability to provide pastoral care to this communications consultant. All blessings to you. Wish I were a voting member of the EDOM!”
    This shows that Bishop Sutton’s “crisis manager” knew Heather Cook well, worked with her in the past, may well have known she was a raging alcoholic and illicit drug user, and supported her to become Bishop. This “crisis manager” was grateful for “pastoral care” received from an alcoholic and illegal drug user.
    Bishop Jefferts Schori and Bishop Sutton really do need to remove their wall of media spin experts and come out and be honest and transparent about their roles in promoting a drunk to bishop.

  • Bishop Sutton has come up with another doozy thanks to his spin doctors Meredith Gould and Dan Webster:
    So what does Sutton say in this letter: He lied but he didn’t really lie. He broke the law but he decided it was the best thing to do at the time.

    Bishop Sutton’s previous letter would have been halarious, if for the fact that it was downright impious: “Lord, it’s not your fault,” he exclaimed.
    Sutton presents himself as the one who suffers. He feels he suffers more than Heather Cook, more than Tom Palmero’s family, even more than Tom Palmero who Cook left dying on the side of the road and then called Sutton’s “chief assistant,” Scott Slater. And then Slater rushes to the scene of the killing and talks to police before Cook is chased down by a cyclist and forced to return.
    Sutton wants his “flock” to feel sorry for him. He plays the victim. He calls for prayers and compassion for him. His conscience is overflowing with guilt. Pray for him, lest he also be called to be accountable.

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