The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has announced they knew in advance of hiring her that the female bishop who struck and killed a cyclist two days after Christmas had a previous citation for drunk driving.
The Diocese said:
One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness. We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption. As part of the search process, Bishop [Heather] Cook fully disclosed the 2010 DUI for which charges were filed resulting in a “probation before judgment.” After extensive discussion and discernment about the incident, and after further investigation, including extensive background check and psychological investigation, it was determined that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader.
The police report the Diocese chose to ignore makes for gruesome reading.
At 1 a.m. on September 10, 2010, police in Caroline County, Maryland, observed Cook driving 21 mph below the posted speed limit of 50. She was riding on the shoulder of the road. Police also noticed something dragging underneath her car. Turns out one of her tires had shredded and was missing entirely. The police reported they “could not find the tire or any parts of it. It appeared that Cook had been riding on the rim for some time.”
Cook told the cops she had stopped for a few drinks in Pennsylvania, though the police report said alcohol could be smelled from outside the car. The police report noted vomit down the front of Cook’s shirt. “Her speech was slurred and her responses were slow.”
The policeman ordered Cook from the vehicle and gave her a number of field sobriety tests, all of which she failed. Police say they found a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of wine, a bag of pot, and a pipe for smoking it inside Cook’s car.
She was taken to the station and given a Breathalyzer that showed she was three times over the legal limit for drinking and driving.
Two days after Christmas Bishop Cook mowed down a much-beloved Baltimore cyclist and bike maker, the father of two young children. Photographs show the windshield of Cook’s car was nearly bashed in completely. Cook drove off and left Thomas Palermo dying on the ground, by the Diocese’s own admission. Other cyclists chased her down and she returned to the scene twenty minutes later.
Though police have questioned Cook, she has not yet been charged, and it has not been reported if she was drunk when she hit the cyclist.
In September, Cook was ordained as the first female bishop of the Episcopalian Church in Maryland. She is the number two bishop in the diocese and has been placed on administrative leave pending the disposition of her case.
If convicted of vehicular manslaughter, Cook could get ten years in prison.