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MARYLAND: Suffragan Bishop Cook Should Do Time for Her Crime. Bishop Sutton Should Resign

MARYLAND: Suffragan Bishop Cook Should Do Time for Her Crime. Bishop Sutton Should Resign


By David W. Virtue DD
December 30, 2014

It was Saturday, 2:37pm when officers were called to the 5700 block of Roland Avenue for a report of a car accident. When police arrived, avid cyclist, Thomas Palermo, 41, was lying on the side of the road still alive and barely breathing. He was immediately rushed to Sinai Hospital where he later died from his injuries. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

The motorist, meanwhile, had fled the scene and returned only after she was reportedly chased down by other cyclists. Police described the driver as a 58-year-old woman who had been heading south on Roland Avenue. They said the decision about whether to charge her would be made after consulting with the city state's attorney's office.

The person responsible for this reprehensible act was none other than Maryland Suffragan Bishop Heather Cook. According to newspaper reports, she fled the scene and was chased by a number of cyclists forcing her to return to the scene of her crime. Was she drunk? Police reports do not say.

Moncure Lyon and other bystanders had stopped to help the badly injured cyclist when the Subaru with heavy windshield damage drove by. Lyon wondered: Was this the car that had hit Thomas Palermo and left the scene?

Lyon jumped on his bike and pedaled in pursuit. When he caught up with the car at a stoplight, "I knew it had to be the car," he said. "The extent of the windshield damage was considerable -- it was pushed in, and there was a hole."

He asked the driver if she was OK.

"She said 'Yes,' and before I could see anything, she pulled ahead," Lyon said.

Lyon said the car turned into the gated Elkridge Estates. He said a security guard allowed the vehicle to enter but stopped Lyon.

This is not Bishop Cook's first run-in with Maryland law enforcement. In 2010 she racked up an impressive list of infractions: Police said Heather Elizabeth Cook, 53, of Cabin Creek Road, was charged with marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession, driving while under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, negligent driving and other traffic offenses. Police refuse to release report on accident, saying it could jeopardize their investigation. However the car in the crash has same vehicle tag number that was recorded in her 2010 DUI arrest.

Police said Cook's car was stopped on state Route 318, near Greenfield Court, where deputies found that the front passenger tire of her car had shredded and fallen off the rim.

Cook performed poorly on field sobriety tests, according to police. Her blood alcohol level registered at .27, more than three times the legal limit in Maryland.

According to Baltimore Police spokesman Det.Jeremy Silbert, a bottle of wine and a bottle of whiskey were found in her car. The whiskey bottle was nearly empty. They also recovered a metal smoking device. The woman was clearly well over the limit.

Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton has stated that Bishop Cook "did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions." The truth is she only returned when she was reportedly chased down by other cyclists. Leaving aside competing claims from various commenters that Bishop Cook waited 45 minutes, not 20, before returning, and that she was tracked down by cyclists who followed her car, it would appear that Cook left Palermo, who was alive after the impact, to die on the side of the road. Some bishop.

Sutton said that because of the nature of the accident, which could result in criminal charges, he placed Bishop Cook on administrative leave, effective immediately. "I will meet shortly with the Standing Committee to discuss ways we can move forward. Also, I have decided to delay the beginning of my sabbatical to Jan. 24 to be pastorally present in this difficult time."

One hopes that the wife of Mr. Palermo sues the diocese, including Sutton, for everything it has. One canon lawyer told VOL that lawyers could go after Sutton for "failure to supervise" and get big bucks from the diocese.

She is not the first drunken, besotted bishop, of course. During his reign as Bishop of New Hampshire, sodomite Bishop Gene Robinson checked himself into rehab, declaring he was one. Carolyn Tanner Irish Bishop of Utah, was another divorcee and alcoholic. There have been others who have concealed their alcoholism. I briefly worked for the Bishop of Virginia, Robert Bruce Hall, a raging alcoholic who could barely get through a Eucharist service before hitting the bottle. None of them got caught in a hit and run accident as this woman did.

Cook also disclosed that she was being supported in her vocation by her "steady companion, Mark" whom she described as a "passionate Anglican." She said they reconnected after having dated in their twenties but found each other again two years ago. It has been a great blessing, she said. The question is, is she living with him without benefit of marriage in which case would this not constitute sexual sin? The old word is fornication. Did Bishop Sutton know this? Was the Standing Committee informed of her living arrangements? Has she ever denied that she is living with a man who is not her husband?

One piece of good news is that if Sutton ever entertained any hopes he might be the next Presiding Bishop, Cook has taken care of that. It will probably go to Bishop Michael B. Curry of North Carolina, a better choice for PB anyway, presuming that a black man can be Presiding Bishop in the current political climate.

At a deeper level, one has to ask how and why Episcopalians elect bishops from the bottom of the ecclesiastical barrel. Part of it, of course, is political correctness. The laity have been so dumbed down from the pulpit and made to feel their guilt as middle class white folk, that they elect blacks, gays and lesbians, married, divorced or whatever, in the name of a false compassion and a false inclusion. (They elected Jefferts Schori, who revealed she had had minimal theological education, but she did have a Ph.D. in science and was a woman). Whoever said they were the right qualifications? She has since proven that her theological credentials mean nothing with pronouncements about the resurrection and Jesus that are less than orthodox.

Episcopalians have been led down the primrose path of inclusivity and diversity (the Bible be damned) and told to feel the pain of men and women who might otherwise get jobs as subway ticket punchers on the NYC metro, providing, of course, that a machine had not already replaced them.

Recent elections in Central Florida, Pittsburgh and Southwestern Virginia resulted in above average choices, but barely. They were straight white males with better than average theological educations, married to women and presumably don't drink and drive.

Heather Cook should be thrown under the bus...for her own good. No second chances this time. No high-priced lawyers using political correctness and her "role" as a bishop to get a lesser sentence. She needs to do time for killing another human being. The diocese should cough up millions to Palermo's kids to cover their education and a future without a father.

Sutton should step down as an incompetent bishop for giving her a pass knowing about her past. We now must wonder who else is "in the closet" among his priests that could further embarrass the diocese and The Episcopal Church.

CORRECTION: VOL has since learned that Cook did disclose her past drinking and driving violations.. Here is my correction. Citing the Christian value of forgiveness, officials of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said that Bishop Heather Cook disclosed her 2010 drunk driving and marijuana arrest, but that they decided it should not disqualify her from consideration to serve as bishop. REALLY. Of all the available options for bishop in TEC they pick a totally unqualified, overweight, single woman, with a boyfriend and a history of serious drinking as Suffragan Bishop of a prestigious diocese who wouldn’t know Jesus if she fell over him drunk. The Standing Committee could have done better had they picked ten random priests faces and stuck them on a dart board!

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