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Commission has denied Heather Cook parole

Commission has denied Heather Cook parole

Heather Cook was the Suffragan Bishop of Maryland at the time of the vehicular collision which killed Thomas Palermo, a cyclist, in December 2014. She eventually plead guilty and was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges related to drink driving, distracted driving, and leaving the scene of an accident in October 2015. In May 2015, she had resigned her position in the Diocese of Maryland and reached an Accord with the Presiding Bishop which removed her authority to function as an ordained minister of the church.

This morning’s parole hearing was to determine Cook’s eligibility for release this July, 25% of the way through her 7-year sentence. But Baltimore local news is reporting that the Commission has denied the application for parole.

According to Baltimore CBSlocal,

Heather Cook spoke extensively during the hearing, but showed no remorse and did not apologize to the victim or his family, according to the chair of the parole board.

The commission did not take long to deliberate, and decided to deny parole because she fled the scene, this was her second DUI, and she showed no remorse. This ruling cannot be appealed.

This story will be updated if further details are released.



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Jay Croft

The bottom line is this: two years for manslaughter, driving under the influence, leaving the scene and a host of other factors is not enough.

The parole board knew this and gave her a hearing only because the law allowed it. Doesn’t mean that they had to grant parole.


[CS — please sign your first and last name when you comment.Thanks — editor]

I think it is worth recalling what Heather Cook said at her sentencing hearing:
“I am so sorry for the pain and agony I’ve caused. This is my fault; I accept complete responsibility. I wish there was something I could do or say to make things better. I have often felt that I do not deserve to be alive.”

This is why I have wondered about the reports from the parole board – the board claims she refused to take responsibility or express remorse, but we know she has done both before. As far as I’m aware, it’s not possible for us to read a transcript, or listen to or watch a recording, of the proceedings before the parole board, and the reports we are able to read are from the board itself, not from reporters who were present for the hearing. (The reason we know what she said at her sentencing hearing is that reporters were present, and they took down her words and made them public. Of course, there was also a court reporter, but I don’t know if Maryland makes court transcripts publicly available.) Even from a purely cynical perspective, any idiot knows what a parole board wants to hear, and I doubt she’s such a fool that she couldn’t figure that out. Furthermore, people who are in regular contact with her all say that she is filled with remorse. So I am left questioning the reliability of the reports from the parole board.

Tim Kruse

The Baltimore Sun article has additional details about the hearing:


I had read that article. What stands out to me is (1) all of the “official” information regarding what Cook said is second-hand, and (2) there really isn’t much of it. Indeed, it boils down to the following two paragraphs:

“Commission chairman David Blumberg said the two commissioners who ruled on the case told him they denied Cook parole in part because she ‘took no responsibility’ for her actions and displayed a ‘lack of remorse’ during the 90-minute hearing…”

“The hearing was open to the public, but officials said all seats in the small room were taken. Blumberg was not present at the hearing, but he told reporters that the commissioners shared details of the hearing with him immediately afterward.”

In other words, this article has no effect on what I said above. There is very little real information, it’s all provided second hand, and it’s entirely at variance with Cook’s prior statements on the record (that is, in open court, before a judge, and being taken down by a court reporter as well as journalists who were in the courtroom at the time).

Ann Fontaine

CS — please use your first and last names when you comment — editor.

leslie marshall

It’s possible that Ms Cook is not remorseful … but I think maybe her attorney did not prepare her properly for the Parole Board hearing. It’s also possible that she did not want to be paroled.

Tim Kruse

The Heather Cook narrative is the gift that keeps on giving. As dioceses embark on the search process for bishops, my fervent hope and prayer is that they remember her story and insist on making the process vigorous and transparent. And I pray that candidates be fully self disclosing in that process.

Mary Ellen Dolan

Given the circumstances of the event and the hearing, I find this to be the appropriate decision of the Court.

Joe Rawls

Appropriate action by the parole board.

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