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Friday, January 9, 2015

Episcopal Church Expected To Kick Out DUI Bishop.
WELS Transfers DUI Clergy and DPs to Another District
Or Forces Them To Work with Jay Webber

Heather Cook turned herself in - DUI and texting while driving.


The wait is over: Episcopal Bishop to be criminally charged

Maryland's bishop suffragan faces four charges in the death of Thomas Palermo

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
www.virtueonline.org
Jan. 9, 2015

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook (Maryland suffragan) has been the subject of nonstop national media attention since the story of a hit and run accident allegedly involving her was broken by Baltimore TV news two weeks ago (Dec. 27, 2014).

Since then the media has been sniffing into Bishop Cook's life and ministry. One "fact" that surfaced is that even before she was elected bishop, Cook, the priest, had a 2010 traffic violation that included intoxication over the legal limit while driving in Caroline County, Maryland, with the result of her being arrested for driving while impaired. She also was cited for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

The speculation at this time, too, was that Cook was drinking and driving with the combination resulting in a deadly car-bike accident.

The waiting, almost two weeks worth, is finally over. According to official reports, not only was Bishop Cook drinking and driving, but she was also texting while driving.

As a result, the Episcopal bishop suffragan will be charged with manslaughter in the fatal crash that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo; leaving the scene of a fatal accident; driving under the influence; and causing an accident due to texting while driving. A warrant is also being drawn up for Bishop Cook's arrest. More headlines will be created when she is formally arrested and booked.

Maryland's new state's attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, who only assumed office on Monday (Jan. 5) and was formally inaugurated into that office last night (Jan. 8), is leveling the legal charges against Bishop Cook. The Bishop Cook/Thomas Palermo hit and run is Mosby's first high profile case as the lead prosecutor. Less than 24 hours later, she met with the press (11 a.m. Jan. 9) and announced the impending charges against the Episcopal bishop.
The police were deliberate and the state's attorney's office was slow in filing charges against Bishop Cook to prevent the threat of double jeopardy if inappropriate charges were originally levied making it harder to adjust the criminal filing at a later date.

"If authorities write tickets or file charges too early, they say, later attempts to file more serious charges could run afoul of constitutional protections against double jeopardy," the Baltimore Sun explained. "It's not unusual for police and prosecutors to delay filing charges in traffic deaths. Homicides involving a car are typically more complicated to prove in court than those involving a gun or a knife, and officials generally prefer to conduct a complete investigation before filing charges."

The new state's attorney promises that Bishop Cook "will not receive any special treatment." After the bishop's arrest, it is expected that she will post bail. Should she be tried and found guilty, Maryland's bishop suffragan could face a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for both the manslaughter and leaving the scene charges.

COOK'S HISTORY
Heather Elizabeth Cook is the daughter of Fr. Halsey Moon Cook, long time rector of Old St. Paul's in Baltimore, who in 1977 admitted to his congregation that he was an alcoholic and went for in-patient treatment in Minnesota.
"I was embarrassed for anybody in Baltimore to know so I snuck off quietly 1,400 miles away," Fr. Cook acknowledged following his own treatment. He died in 1989 and is not around to witness his daughter's alcoholic fall from grace.

Bishop Cook is one of only 20 women bishops in The Episcopal Church and the 1081st Episcopal bishop to be consecrated. She was the 20th female bishop to be ordained to the bishopric on Sept. 6, 2014, from a stable of four women running for the bishop suffragan of Maryland. She was elected on the fourth ballot over Nancy Gossling, Martha Macgill, and Victoria Sirota. At the time of her election, she was the Canon to the Ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of Easton.

Bishop Theodore Eastman (VII Maryland) ordained Cook to the diaconate in 1987 Bishop Heath Light (IV Southwestern Virginia) ordained her a priest in 1988; Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori elevated her to the bishopric last September with Bishop Eugene Sutton (XIV Maryland), and Bishop James Shand (X Easton) assisting. She has served in various positions and ministries throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and Maryland.
Since the fatal accident and the media hype surrounding the mishap, The Episcopal Church has initiated Title IV action against her. In all likelihood, once Bishop Cook has formally been charged with felonies, she will be stripped of her orders in line with Title IV.10: Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy. This Canon is designed to weed out TEC clerics who shall bring any "disorder or neglect that prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the Church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the Church or the Holy Orders conferred by the Church."

"She has violated the basis for our trust in leaving the scene of the accident," writes retired Bishop Robert Ihloff (XIII Maryland) who is now serving as interim rector of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore. "All persons have a moral responsibility to stop, whatever the nature of an accident. When a life hangs in the balance, that duty to stop and assist is especially crucial.

"Can she be forgiven?" the retired bishop asks. "Yes, by God, and after repentance.

"Can she be trusted as a leader of the Christian Church?" he continues. "Sadly, No ... [this] will almost assuredly result in Heather being deposed."

Following the news conference announcing the charges against Bishop Cook, the Palermo family released a statement:
"Our family greatly appreciates the focus that Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her team have given to the investigation surrounding the events that led to the death of Tom Palermo on December 27, 2014. She confirms that a thorough, careful investigation has been underway and that this matter is receiving the very serious attention that it deserves. We are deeply saddened to learn of the events leading up to the senseless hit-and-run accident that claimed Tom's life, and support the prosecutor's efforts to hold Bishop Heather Cook accountable for her actions to the fullest extent of the law."

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland also issued a statement following this morning's state's attorney's news conference.

"With the announcement today by civil authorities of charges against Heather Cook in the tragic death of Thomas Palermo, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, reaffirms its respect for the course of action the legal system is taking and prays for a just outcome in this case," the Diocese of Maryland stated.

"I want to thank the Baltimore Police Department and the State's Attorney's office for the thoroughness and care by which they have handled and investigated this case," added Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton (XIV Maryland). "On behalf of everyone in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, please know that we are deeply heartbroken over this, and we cry for the Palermo family, our sister Heather, and all in the community who are hurting."

"Our Lord Jesus would be a healing presence in the midst of this tragic situation, and we are seeking ways to walk in his footsteps in the days and months ahead," Bishop Sutton added. "As we do so we are truly being the church, and we will always be guided by our core Christian values of personal accountability, compassion and respect for the rule of law."

The Diocese of Maryland also confirmed that it is cooperating fully with The Episcopal Church's internal affairs investigation.

"Since she (Heather Cook) is a bishop, it falls under the jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to handle disciplinary proceedings regarding Cook's actions," the diocese explained. "The disciplinary process, known internally as Title IV for the section of the Church's Constitution dealing with discipline procedures, is in place to objectively investigate and determine appropriate action by The Episcopal Church."

This is not the first time the Diocese of Maryland has had to deal with crime issues. In May 2012 Mary-Marguerite Kohn, co-rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City and her administrative assistant, Brenda Brewington, were brutally slain in their church office by a deranged homeless man who was a frequent visitor to St. Peter's Food Pantry.

Then as the 2013 Thanksgiving rolled around, Heather Cook was serving in the Diocese of Easton when two men died, including the rector David Dingwall at historic St. Paul's-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. The men died in an arsonist's fire which set office space in the old rectory ablaze. Canon to the Ordinary Cook was fielding media calls as that story unfolded.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

---
Presiding Bishop Schori  (behind, to the left) will need to depose Cook as a bishop,
remove her from office as bishop and priest
o.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/north-baltimore/bs-md-ci-palermo-announcement-20150109-story.html#page=1

Bishop Suffagan Heather Elizabeth Cook turned herself into police mid-Friday afternoon and was being processed at Central Booking, police said. A court commissioner was expected to determine her bail in the evening, a judiciary spokeswoman said.
She faces numerous other charges including leaving the scene of a fatal accident and driving under the influence. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Cook's breath alcohol content was .22, nearly triple the legal limit in Maryland.
Both the manslaughter and leaving the scene charge carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
Mosby said at a news conference Friday that she had met with Palermo's family Thursday to update them on the investigation.


"I've assured them that no one is above the law," she said.
The case has roiled Baltimore's cycling community while casting scrutiny on the Episcopal Diocese, which elevated Cook to its second-highest rank in May despite a 2010 drunken-driving conviction. It also raised questions about the justice system and whether the delay in charges was unusual.
The Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, said in a statement that the organization was "deeply heartbroken over this, and we cry for the Palermo family, our sister Heather and all in the community who are hurting."
The collision happened on the afternoon of Dec. 27 as Palermo was cycling through Roland Park.
Mosby said that both Cook and Palermo were heading south on Roland Avenue when Cook veered into the bike lane and struck Palermo from behind. Palermo was thrown onto the hood of her 2001 Subaru and hit the windshield, Mosby said.


Cook was spotted 30 minutes after the crash heading north on the same street and went home before returning to the scene, Mosby said. She was taken to the Baltimore Police's central district station, where she was given a Breathalyzer test.
Mosby also alleged that Cook was texting at the time of the collision.
The church had previously released a detailed timeline of what they knew about the December crash that made no mention of Cook allegedly being drunk or text messaging.
Sharon J. Tillman, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, said officials were aware Cook had been drinking before the accident and had been texting while driving, but police requested they withhold certain information.
"We were cooperating with police in their investigation throughout," she said.
Cook previously pleaded guilty to a 2010 drunken driving charge on the Eastern Shore in which she registered a .27 blood-alcohol level.