Former bishop Heather Cook sentenced to 7 years

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The Baltimore Sun reports:

Former Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for killing a cyclist in a drunken crash days after Christmas.

Cook, 59, pleaded guilty last month to automobile manslaughter in the death of 41-year-old Thomas Palermo, a married father of two young children. She was taken into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing Wednesday.

From

Here’s what Cook said in court:

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News video here.

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Randall Stewart
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Randall Stewart

Seven years for a man's life.

I understand this is our system, but this is not justice.

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Lena
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Lena

Hopefully the vetting process will find out when people have several DUIs and not be hired.

[Lena - please sign your first & last names when commenting. Editor]

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David Allen
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David Allen

I'm sure that you meant to say having several DUIs and not addressing the problem. DUIs in one's past is not de facto grounds for not being hired.

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Margaret Shannon
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Margaret Shannon

Now that the legal proceedings are over, what will the Diocese of Maryland do to assist Tom Palermo's widow, who has lost their health insurance with his death? She has small children so employment is limited, and she should not be forced to work to survive. If the Diocese doesn't step up and do the right thing, she is victimized a second time. Where is full disclosure on the "financial agreements with the client and the diocese?"

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David Allen
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David Allen

I can't see where that is really any of your business regarding the financial agreements. You know what you need to know, that they are on board with the punishment phase and arrangements for their future wellbeing have been provided. Anything beyond that is prurient curiosity.

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Jos. S. Laughon
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If the Diocese does not provide for this woman and her children, then that is a second, grave injustice. The diocesan officials would do well to God's Word in Exodus where it discusses those who mistreat widows and the fatherless.

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Helen Kromm
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Helen Kromm

Margaret, since this terrible tragedy took place, the Diocese has done everything in their power to whitewash this, and escape any collective or individual accountability. That is a matter of established fact. No other conclusion can be drawn from their behavior.

Like you, I think it would be in everyone's best interest to know the terms of the financial settlement. We are all part of the church. To trust leadership that has so thoroughly failed us regarding any aspect of this is foolhardy.

The Palermo family also made it very clear that they are disappointed in the sentence. "Lukewarm" is not the result they wanted, desired, or expected.

More than anything else, I'd like to express my feeling that I don't see anything at all "prurient" in your curiosity. That word is despicable in the context of this. You are owed an apology. I hope you get it.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prurient

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David Streever
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David Streever

How was the diocese responsible? Do you think that Heather Cook was forced to drive a car, whilst drunk, by the Diocese? Do you honestly think the Diocese could have known about this & prevented it?

I have yet to see a single thing that suggests that is true, except statements like "They must have known!" As someone who lived with an alcoholic, first in my family and later in a relationship, I would say it's nowhere near as clear as it seems after the fact.

There is a real danger in looking at something post facto and making conclusions about what others knew and when. What is clear to us at this point was undoubtedly less clear before it happened; none of us can see the future, but it's tempting to imagine we can when we look at something from a distance after it has happened.

The death of Tom Palermo was a terrible tragedy that weighs heavily on all of us; I'm a committed cyclist who rode about 2000 miles this summer alone. I saw that death as something that could easily happen to me, and which has happened to people I used to bike with. I was (and am) outraged by it.

Despite that, I take several issues with the 'critics':
1. The claim that the Diocese is responsible seems ill-considered, unproven, and distracting. HEATHER COOK DID THIS. No one else made her do it. No one else put her in that car. That was hers, and hers alone. If she robbed a gas station & shot the clerk, would we blame the Diocese? It seems a huge logical leap.
2. After making the first claim, one can easily see the Diocese as being 'shifty' or 'avoiding' blame. Of course! Because you are blaming them for something they didn't do; of course they aren't going to take the blame. Which individual is at fault? One of the how many people who reviewed her eligibility before she was hired? An employee at the background check office who failed to find the original DUI? The judge who gave her such a lenient sentence at her hearing?

I think people should be careful with their rage & venting, especially those of us who were not close to Mr. Palermo. Cooler heads sometimes need to prevail. What is the logical conclusion of these demands? Firing the Bishop in Maryland? Firing the outgoing Presiding Bishop?

The sheer lack of logic and real end goals in this type of 'critique' makes me question the motives, or at best, honestly hope that people could stand down when they are overcome by emotion and stop pushing for an uncertain and possibly undesirable end goal.

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David Allen
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David Allen

Adjective
prurient ‎(comparative more prurient, superlative most prurient)

1. Uneasy with desire; itching; especially, having a lascivious anxiety or propensity; lustful.
2. Arousing or appealing to sexual desire.
3. Curious, especially inappropriately so.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/prurient

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Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

The legal proceedings may not be completely over. In most states a settlement of a minor's claims must be approved by the court, who typically appoints an attorney ad litem to represent the minor's interests. The court can reject the settlement as it applies to the child it determines that it's not in his or her best interest.

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Harry M. Merryman
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Harry M. Merryman

Whatever the Diocese may have done with regard to a financial settlement, I doubt it was because they feared being found liable for an actionable tort. The Diocese may have wanted to provide for the family and also avoid a painful and embarrassing suit against a former bishop. It is possible that the terms of the settlement or support include a confidentiality provision, which is a common practice. It should also be remembered that HC's automobile liability and personal injury carrier would be looking to settle, as well.

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Nancy Platt
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I sent Resolution DO14 to General convention for that purpose. Now aspirants for ordination must be asked one or more questions abut addiction when they are interviewed and if the response is positive they are to be referred to an alcoholism counselor for evaluation.

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Leslie Scoopmire
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Well, it is rather hard to accept personal responsibility without referencing oneself.

Nonetheless, mentioning Mr. Palermo's name makes what was done all the more real. It could be too hard for her to say his name. It might be too hard for the family to hear his name on her lips, or it might not.

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Sandra Koenig
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Sandra Koenig

Ms. Cook references herself nine times in this short statement. I don't know what, if any, significance that has. It just strikes me as strange.

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David Allen
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David Allen

Strange that she took responsibility for it herself?

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Shirley O'Shea
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Shirley O'Shea

Would you stop with the sarcasm already? I am done with Episcopal Cafe! If a church website cannot be a refuge from sarcasm, no place can.

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David Allen
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David Allen

An honest question about what she meant isn't sarcasm.

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