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Statement issued following clergy meeting in Maryland

Statement issued following clergy meeting in Maryland

UPDATE 2, added 11PM: Report from Baltimore Sun – see below

UPDATE 1: more from Baltimore Brew – see below

The Diocese of Maryland has issued a statement following this morning’s closed-door meeting held to allow diocesan clergy to receive and process information, express feelings, ask questions, and come together after the tragic events of past weeks, in which a cyclist was killed in an accident involving the Suffragan Bishop of that diocese, Heather Cook.

The Rev. Scott Slater, chief assistant to the Bishop of Maryland, reported to the assembled clergy on the events of December 27 and its aftermath. Many details, however, remain undisclosed:

Out of respect for the ongoing police investigation, for the Palermo family, and for Cook, Slater did not share details of his conversation with Cook in the meeting with clergy today. Slater and other staff members are cooperating fully with the police investigation and the Title IV investigation begun last week by the Presiding Bishop’s office. We cannot disclose details of that investigation either, as they are constrained by church disciplinary procedures under canon law.

Cook is now in good hands and receiving care that will hopefully help her on her journey forward.

Cook remains on administrative leave from the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. She is receiving pay and benefits in accordance with standard denominational practice. Since she is a bishop it falls under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to handle disciplinary proceedings regarding Cook’s actions. As stated above, these proceedings have begun. The disciplinary process, known internally as Title IV for the section of the Church’s Constitution dealing with discipline procedures, is in place to objectively investigate and determine appropriate action.

According to the release on the diocesan website,

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is guided throughout this tragic situation by three core values: accountability, compassion and the rule of law. As we all process and come to understand this tragedy, these values will be our focus.

The statement concludes,

Please continue to keep the Palermo family and Heather Cook in your prayers. We are urging congregations to designate a Sunday offering for the Palermo family fund.

The full statement can be found here.

UPDATE 1: More information following the meeting with clergy and bishop was gathered by The Brew here.

UPDATE 2: The Baltimore Sun has a report with quotes from Bishop Sutton, Episcopal Church spokesperson Neva Rae Fox, Bishop Cook’s attorney, and others.

Posted by Rosalind Hughes


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Mark Mason

What does the casual observer see the TEC in the news for? Oh! That’s those guys that spend as much on litigation as they do on mission! Now one of their bishops is in the news for a fatal hit-and run. What do you think they will do, lawyer up?

Jeld Liko

As I’ve read over things, there is a lot of consternation over the fact that speculation about the exact nature and course of events is occurring on social media. We are instructed to be patient and wait for the facts.

But people are people. The meeting reported in the article was a “closed-door meeting,” in which “Slater did not share details of his conversation with Cook,” and the church “cannot disclose details” of the PB’s investigation, because they are “constrained by church disciplinary procedures under canon law.”

Are we jockeying to become the subject matter for the next Dan Brown novel? Speculation will run rampant until someone provides information to take the place of conjecture. Basic rules of evidence prevent out-of-court statements being used against Bishop Cook if she goes to trial. And even if that weren’t the case, shouldn’t the church be committed to justice on the objective facts?

We are the church; our core identity lies in telling the truth regardless of the consequences. So quit jerking us around. Our leaders know more than they are saying about what happened. They need to tell the whole truth now. Out with it!

Dave Paisley

“Jason La Canfora, the CBS reporter who covers the NFL and who lives in the area, said he saw the badly injured victim on the side of the road and stopped to call 911. He said the driver of the car was gone at that point.

A group of cyclists went looking for the vehicle and reported back to police that they had seen a car with a smashed windshield, La Canfora said. A short time later, the Subaru pulled up. He said its windshield was “three-quarters shattered.”

“It was a massive impact,” he said.”

Picture of windshield

“At 2:59 p.m. Slater received a call from Heather Cook. She said she thought she had hit a bicyclist and was in shock.”

The guys was practically in her passenger seat and she “thought she had hit a bicyclist”, but hey rather than stop and call 911, I’ll just drive away and leave him to die.

The important reason that leaving the scene of an accident is a crime is that every second counts when getting emergency help to the scene. The five minutes or so that elapsed from Heather Cook hitting Tom Palermo and fleeing, to Jason La Canfora stopping and calling 911 turned out to be deadly – he may not have survived anyway, but she gave him no chance.

JC Fisher

I think the relevant phrase here, is “was in shock”. Shock can suppress both reason and conscience. We should be careful in judging someone, not knowing what the experience of that shock was like (the legal system, obviously, WILL judge. Not to mention God, of course).

Dave Paisley

She wasn’t “in shock” enough to:

a) stop driving around
b) drive by the accident site a second time, whereupon she was spotted and chased back to her home
c) call a diocesan official

Doesn’t wash.

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