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Crime & Justiceby Brew Editors5:28 pmMay 1, 20150

Heather Cook is defrocked as priest of Episcopal Church

Title IV disciplinary proceeding ends with Cook losing her rights to serve as ordained Episcopal priest

Above: U.S. Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presides over the consecration of Heather Cook (left) as bishop suffragan last September.

In a release closely coordinated with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church has announced that disgraced Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook has accepted a “sentence of deposition” that will strip her of rights as an ordained priest of the church.

U.S. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said today’s action was the culmination of the church’s Title IV disciplinary proceeding that began after Cook was revealed to be the driver of the hit-and-run crash in Baltimore that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo.

Cook, who registered a breath alcohol reading nearly three times the legal limit when she returned to the crash scene, was charged with manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, and DUI by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

This afternoon, in a separate press release, Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, announced that Cook had resigned her position as the No. 2 diocesan leader.

No Information about Title IV Investigation

According to the release by Jefferts Schori’s office, “the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Cook have reached an Accord. Under the terms of the Accord, Bishop Cook will receive a Sentence of Deposition, pursuant to which she shall be ‘deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination.’”

The release continues, “As such, Cook will no longer function as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church,” adding that, “The Accord resolves all ecclesiastical disciplinary matters involving Cook.”

No further information was provided as to the results of the Title IV investigation, including how Cook ended up as a bishop despite her September 2010 arrest for drunk driving and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia when she was cannon to the ordinary for the Easton (Md.) Diocese.

Drunk at Dinner Party

Nor was there any account, in the release, about what knowledge the Maryland church had of her “alcohol problem” in the months prior to her deadly encounter with Palermo.

Sutton previously disclosed that he believed Cook was drunk at a private dinner two days before she was consecrated as bishop last September. He said he conveyed his concerns to Jefferts Schori, who attended the dinner and presided over Cook’s subsequent ordination.

“It was in the presiding bishop’s hands,” Sutton told a group of parishioners. Jefferts Schori did not respond to that allegation in today’s press release issued by her office.

Cook currently has a June 4 trial date in Baltimore Circuit Court on the criminal charges stemming from the December 27 crash that killed the 43-year-old father of two.

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