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Maryland diocese: bishop at wheel in fatal hit-and-run

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BALTIMORE (AP) — Court documents show that an Episcopal bishop who was the driver in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist in Baltimore had been charged four years ago with drunken driving and marijuana possession.

Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, who is the No. 2 leader for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, was driving a car that hit 41-year-old Tom Palermo on Saturday afternoon, according to diocese spokeswoman Sharon Tillman.

Tillman said Cook disclosed the earlier charges when she was vetted and ultimately elected as the diocese's first female bishop. A judge sentenced her to a fine and probation before judgment on the DUI charge, meaning her record could be cleared if she stayed out of trouble.

In an email Sunday, Bishop Eugene Sutton told priests in the diocese that Cook left the scene of Saturday's accident, but returned about 20 minutes later "to take responsibility for her actions." Sutton said Cook was on administrative leave "because the nature of the accident could result in criminal charges."

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