Heather Cook, the drunk-driving Episcopal bishop charged in the death of a bicyclist in Baltimore last December, could receive 10 years in prison after pleading guilty on Tuesday to automobile manslaughter and three other charges.
Cook, 58, the first woman to reach the position of bishop in her Episcopal diocese, and now the first to be booted, was accused of leaving the scene of the accident after hitting Thomas Palermo, 41, on Dec. 27, reported the Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Timothy Doory won't sentence Cook until Oct. 27, but prosecutors said they would ask for a 20-year sentence with 10 of those years suspended, along with five years of probation.
Doory said he wouldn't sentence Cook to more than what prosecutors are asking.
After the hearing, Palermo sister-in-law Alisa Rock said the court should hold Cook to a higher standard, according to WBFF-TV
"It's time for us to send a strong message that we won't tolerate drivers who text or drive while intoxicated," said Rock.
Assistant State Attorney Kurt Bjorklund charged that Cook had been texting while driving and didn't return to the scene until 30 minutes later as a friend urged, said the Sun.
Authorities said Cook registered nearly three times the blood-alcohol limit on a breath test.
A grand jury had indicted Cook in February and she resigned in May as bishop suffragan for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, according to Christian Post
"Under the terms of the accord, Bishop Cook will receive a Sentence of Deposition, pursuant to which she shall be 'deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God's word and sacraments conferred at ordination,'" said an Episcopal Diocese of Maryland statement
. "As such, Cook will no longer function as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church."
According to the Sun, the diocese acknowledged that the search committee which vetted Cook for bishop was aware she had been arrested on a DUI charge in 2010 but didn't pass the information along.
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