Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook Cannot Post $2.5 Million Bail, To Remain In Jail

Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58, surrendered to police Friday afternoon. Her bail was set at $2.5 million. (Baltimore City Police Department)
Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58, surrendered to police Friday afternoon. Her bail was set at $2.5 million.
(Baltimore City Police Department)

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook, who has been accused of killing a bicyclist while driving drunk and texting, is expected to remain jailed after a judge on Monday upheld her $2.5 million bail — an amount her attorney says she cannot post.

District Court Judge Nicole Pastore Klein rejected a request from prosecutors to deny bail, but also disagreed with Cook’s attorney that her bail should be lowered. Klein said the allegations against Cook show a “reckless and careless indifference to life.”

“I can’t trust her judgment if released,” Klein said.

Cook, 58, was arrested Friday and charged with manslaughter and other offenses related to the crash that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, 41, in North Baltimore last month. Her initial bail was set by a District Court commissioner that night.

Cook, who is being held at Central Booking, appeared in court Monday afternoon via a video link. She wore a pink jumpsuit and was brought in separately from other defendants, while most defendants are escorted in groups. Her attorney, Jose A. Molina, said he didn’t know why she was treated differently.

She did not make any statements in court.

At the hearing, Molina disclosed that after the crash Cook entered a 28-day treatment program at Father Martin’s Ashley in Havre de Grace. She had been in the program for 12 days when prosecutors filed charges against her, he said.

Molina asked Klein to lower Cook’s bail to $500,000 and allow her to continue with residential treatment or home monitoring. He promised she would not drive.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kurt Bjorklund asked Klein not to allow Cook to post bond at all. He pointed to her drunken-driving arrest in 2010 on the Eastern Shore, in which Cook registered a 0.27 blood alcohol level and was driving her vehicle on a shredded tire.

Court officials said Cook spent six months in an alcohol-abuse program after pleading guilty in that case and receiving probation.

Cook was the first woman elected to the position of bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. As bishop suffragan, she is the second-ranking official in the diocese.

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SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun
Justin Fenton

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