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Audio transcript of Cook’s first DUI court appearance

Audio transcript of Cook’s first DUI court appearance

The Baltimore Sun provides an audio transcript of Bishop Cook’s appearance before the judge seeking leniency for her first arrest. The Sun also has more comments from friends and colleagues about her work before becoming bishop and before killing Thomas Palermo.

Standing before an Eastern Shore judge in 2010 after being caught driving drunk, the Rev. Heather Elizabeth Cook and her attorney pleaded for leniency.

Cook was undergoing three different forms of counseling, including Alcoholics Anonymous, her attorney said. And she had voluntarily had an ignition interlock device installed in her car.

“I am regarding this as a major wake-up call in my life, and I’m doing things now that I was not able to do without this motivation,” Cook told District Judge John E. Nunn III, according to an audio transcript obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request.

Since the crash that killed Palermo, a 41-year-old father of two, Cook and those in her inner circle have declined interview requests. But others who know her were surprised to learn of the 58-year-old’s personal struggles, and said she was a stellar church leader who was well-regarded in the community.


Posted by Ann Fontaine


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Eric Bonetti


Thanks for the comments about crisis communication and openness and honesty. One of the things that frustrates me about TEC at multiple levels is lack of transparency, as well as accountability. Tied to the latter is just getting stuff done…it seems remarkably hard at times for the church to move in a straight line. For example, consider the ill-fated advertising campaign to come from 815…clearly, there was no focus group or other testing, the collateral was released, pulled a few days later with the comment that 815 staff agreed it was not ready for prime time, and now…? Silence reigns.

Just too many cases of control, but not accountability.

Frankie Andreu

Eric, thank you. All of your remarks are so well considered and so Christian. You are a true member of the Church.
As we move forward we are beginning to realize that Bishop Cook is only a symptom of the crisis in the Church. Surely a very unfortunate symptom in that a man had to die for the community to wake up.
The real crisis is the secrecy and dishonesty in the Church’s leadership that goes right to the top. It is very difficult for ordinary member of the Church who look for a place to worship and practice religion to be confronted with a leadership of such hubris and incompetency. But if this Church wants to survive, it is up to the members to install leaders that practice what the religion teaches.
It is absurd that a man like Canon Dan Webster could be promoted to a position of responsibility for evangelism and ministry development in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland after publicly a few years ago as Director of Communications for the Episcopalian Diocese of Utah writing the following: “It is about power and control. It is about “doing it my way.” It has little to do with biblical orthodoxy and apostasy. It comes down to winners and losers. As Anglicans, it probably should be no surprise if we look at our history. Murder, assassination, trials, incarceration, slander, mayhem have all been used to resolve internal church disputes.”
Let us all try to clean out what is bad in the Church and move closer to the true calling of the Church.

Frankie Andreu

Brother David, it is so true what you say. Bishops Jefferts Schori and Sutton have have revealed so little and what they have stated is so full of contradictions and simply made up facts that the congregation has few real facts to go on. A lack of transparency, secrecy, and lies does lead to gossip. As the Bible teaches us, the truth is what we need. The truth is what we must insist on.

Bro David

Being only privy to the gossip bantered about here regarding these matters, I find that I have insufficient information to answer such deeply important questions.

Frankie Andreu

Brother David, thank you for your improved reading and it is closer to being correct. I also admire your command of the English language. It is really quite good, and believe me I know how hard this is. Sometimes I can feel more comfortable in Ancient Greek or Latin.
Would you consider Bishop Sutton hiring the private company of Meredith Gould to secretly post lies on his behalf on social media nefarious? Would you consider that Bishop Sutton’s use of Canon Dan Webster (given what we both now know about his views on truth) to call national news media with spin nefarious? Do you have suggestions as to how the brothers and sisters of this Church can get back to the Bible, honesty, and transparency?

Bro David

I have Frankie and I read and comprehend English very well in spite of it not being my first language. But lest you be left in the dark, he is taking literary license and referring to the starting decades of Anglicanism, when the Church in England became the Church of England and the very sorts of things that he mentions were all to common. Then he makes a jump to modern day North American Anglicanism and the nefarious dealings of TEC and ACoC fundamentalists.

Frankie Andreu

Brother David, please read carefully the words (and the full article) Canon Dan Webster published: ‘It is about power and control. It is about “doing it my way.” It has little to do with biblical orthodoxy and apostasy.’ I am sure this is not a “truth” that the Episcopalian community of worshipers subscribes to, at least I do not. However, this is precisely the truth that Canon Dan Webster and his wife’s private company are providing for Bishop Sutton and the Most Reverend Bishop Jefferts Schori. It does sadden us that the Church leadership believes, supports, and promotes such “truths.”

Bro David

Stating the truth is grounds for not having a job?

Eric Bonetti

Thanks Nancy.

Nancy Bennett


My deepest sympathies on the loss of your family members. My brother was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver, so I do, literally, share your pain.

I did not mean to mischaracterize your remarks. You did say that you “suspected” she had a “major mental illness” although there has been no evidence whatsoever of this over her career, as far as what is in the public domain or anything that anybody has said about her, or anything presented on her behalf at the 2010 hearing. My comment was that I find this to be an example of looking very hard for a medical basis for her behavior.

Even focusing entirely on her drinking, it is clear that she has been able to control it fairly well in terms of hiding it from many people, meaning that she could show up for events on a daily basis without drinking, or at least being drunk. It seems as if she was quite able to confine getting drunk to times and places of her own choosing. This was not a woman lying drunk in the gutter by any means. This was a woman carefully protecting her own career by not drinking in a way that would jeopardize it. What she didn’t seem to care enough about was staying out of a car while she was doing it.

Of course we should pray for her. None of my comments were directed to what *we* should do for her. They were concerned with what the courts should do, and specifically what might have been (but was not) done at the 2010 DUI hearing, in part, at least (as per the audio tape) because of the “disease/treatment” model expressly embraced by the court.

Eric Bonetti

Nancy, one point of clarification: You mischaracterize both my comment about mental illness, and my conclusions. I do not state that Cook must be dealing with mental illness; I state that she may. I also do not urge a treatment-based or any other approach to the case. Indeed, as someone who lost six members of my family to a drunk driver, I believe she should be incarcerated. (The driver involved in my family’s accident got six month’s probation and a suspended license, so I am all too familiar with this issue.)

What I do urge is a Christian approach to the issue, including recognizing that we don’t have all the information in front of us, and that there is suffering on all sides of this issue. Feeling sorry for someone, including Cook, isn’t what we are called to do as Christians. Instead, we are called to pray for others, even those who persecute us, and all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit.

In the meantime, given my experience with a drunk driver and loss, please do not misrepresent my comments. Until now, I have nowhere indicated what I believe to be an appropriate outcome in this case.

Ted Thomas Martin

leniency? Remember a precious life was lost, She is not suitable as a Bishop, the church has enough problems. Running as a coward would is a very sad trait.

Bro David

Read closer, this isn’t about the current circumstance. This is from 4 years ago.

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