Bishop called 2010 DUI arrest ‘a major wake-up call’

The Baltimore Sun

By Justin Fenton and Jonathan Pitts
The Baltimore Sun

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.

She received one year of supervised probation — and a warning from the judge.

“There are people who deal with this problem every day,” Nunn told her. “Some people get it right and they never come back before this court, and others just keep coming back, coming back, coming back — like the swallows to Capistrano, you know?”

Four years later, Cook, who became the first female bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, was back in court, charged with manslaughter and other offenses for allegedly driving drunk and sending text messages when she struck and killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo in Baltimore on Dec. 27.

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