The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland, writes to members of his diocese:
I’m reaching out to you because I’ve recently learned that several members of our diocese are very concerned about a statement I made at some of the Heather Cook case forums. More specifically, they are wondering why I said that neither I nor anyone I knew of in the Diocese of Maryland knew about her struggles with alcoholism.
Please know that my answers during those forums were accurate and offered in response to specific questions about the vetting process for bishop suffragan nominees.
During that vetting process, we were not, in fact, aware that Heather was dealing with an ongoing addiction. As a result, all of us viewed her 2010 DUI as a one-time incident, something that Heather herself would refer to during “meet-and-greet” events as a difficult time in her life.
Because of the confidentiality required when disciplinary investigations are underway, I was advised not to reveal my suspicions during any of the forums. But as events continued to develop, I came to believe our diocese would no longer be served by waiting for the entire Title IV process to be completed.
I knew that the time had come for my suspicions about her possible inebriation on September 4 to become public, which is noted on the recently posted timeline of events.
Maintaining an appropriate, healthy balance between promises of confidentiality and the need for truth-telling is difficult under such complex circumstances. I prayerfully ask you to consider your bishop’s need to find that balance.
Related: Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew analyzes the timeline provided by the Diocese of Maryland.