Episcopal Diocese asks bishop for resignation following fatal bike crash
Episcopal leaders have asked the bishop accused in a fatal collision with a bicyclist in Baltimore last month to resign her position in the church.
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland made the request Monday in a letter to Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook.
The eight-member panel told Cook it had “agreed unanimously that you are no longer able to function effectively in the position of Bishop Suffragan given recent events.
“Therefore, we respectfully call for your immediate resignation from the position.”
I think there’s no future for [Cook] in the life of the Episcopal church as a bishop.
– The Right Rev. Robert W. Ihloff, a former Episcopal Bishop of Maryland
Cook, 58, the second-ranking bishop in the diocese, was arrested this month and charged with manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, texting while driving and other offenses in the death Dec. 27 of Thomas Palermo in North Roland Park.
Palermo, 41, was a software engineer at Johns Hopkins Hospital and built and maintained bicycles on the side. His death has galvanized the local cycling community, which has long called for safety improvements on city streets.
Cook’s lawyer, David Irwin, said she had “received the letter and discussed it briefly” with him. He declined to comment further.
Asked if Cook would speak with a reporter, Irwin said, “Not if she follows my advice.”
A spokeswoman for the Maryland diocese said the diocese was “grateful” the committee asked Cook to resign.
This “will allow us to focus on improving our search process, bringing about changes in how we minister to people with addictions, and collaborate with the cycling community to make Maryland safer,” the spokeswoman, Sharon Tillman, said in a statement Wednesday.
She said Cook had not responded.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said Cook’s blood alcohol level was 0.22 percent — more than twice the legal limit in Maryland — and that she was text-messaging at the time of the collision.
Police and witnesses said Cook left the scene along Roland Avenue before returning. She has been released on bail.