BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)–We’re learning more about Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook and her struggles with alcohol. For the first time we’re hearing audio in the courtroom from Cook’s DUI in 2010.
The 58-year-old faces manslaughter charges after a hit-and-run crash that killed cyclist Tom Palermo just before the new year.
Rick Ritter has the details.
On the outside, the Diocese of Maryland’s first female bishop, on the inside it’s a battle against addiction.
Bishop Heather Cook’s struggles with alcohol date back to 2010 when she’s first arrested for DUI on the Eastern Shore.
“I am regarding this as a major wake-up call in my life and i’m doing things now that I wasn’t able to do without this motivation,” said Bishop Cook back in 2010.
Her attorney vows for change, saying Cook turned in the wrong direction for comfort after dealing with self doubt issues.
“You can see she’s someone who would take a situation like this certainly, very serious,” said Cook’s attorney.
After receiving supervised probation, Cook was back just four years later.
“There are people who deal with this problem every day. Some people get it right and they never come back before the court and others just keep coming back,” said Judge John E. Nunn III.
On December 27th, the 58-year-old struck and killed 41-year-old husband and father Tom Palermo.
Prosecutors say Cook wasn’t only drunk behind the wheel, but was texting as well.
Since the accident here along Roland Avenue, Cook’s posted $2.5 million bail, checked into a treatment facility and was asked to resign from her job
YouTube video shows Cook explaining why she’s a viable candidate.
Just weeks ago, WJZ questioned the diocese’s knowledge of Cook’s legal history and how she was still ordained as Bishop Suffragan despite it.
Ritter: “Is it inexcusable to miss an incident like that?” s
Sharon Tillman Episcopal Diocese of Maryland: “Looking back in hindsight, that’s what we’re reacting now.”
A reaction that now calls for the bishop to resign, as the cycling community continues to mourn.
Cook is scheduled to be back in court Friday–at last check with her attorney she remains at an in-patient treatment facility and has no response on being called to resign.
If convicted of all charges, Cook could face more than 20 years in prison.