Worcester bishop pleads not guilty to DUI charge in RI

WAKEFIELD, R.I. (WHDH) — The leader of the Roman Catholic diocese in Worcester charged with driving drunk in Rhode Island has been released on $1,000 bail.

Bishop Robert McManus pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.

The 61-year-old McManus was represented by former Rhode Island House Speaker William Murphy, who's now in private practice. He was arrested Saturday night in Narragansett near his vacation home.

“The bishop issued a statement yesterday. He apologized for what happened on Saturday night,” said Murphy.

Tuesday’s court proceeding lasted only minutes and lawyers waived reading the charges, but according to Rhode Island police reports, the arresting officer wrote in part, that the bishop was unsteady on his feet, slurring his words, making it difficult to understand. The report also states the officer could detect alcohol from his mouth as he spoke and his face was red and eyes severely bloodshot.

“He apologized for what happened Saturday night. It was an unfortunate incident. The bishop appeared in court voluntarily, as you know, personal recognizance was set. He feels bad for what happened,” said Murphy.

Narragansett, R.I. police said the bishop caused an accident late Saturday night, hitting another car and then allegedly drove away from the scene. Officers said the driver, a police dispatcher, followed McManus and called police.

The victim’s wife, Laura Smith, said she could not comment on the incident.

McManus is a Rhode Island native and served as auxiliary bishop in Providence for five years. He's been Worcester bishop since 2004.

Worcester parishioners are stunned by the news.

“That is more than just one bad decision. Don’t you think? It’s not the smartest thing, especially somebody in that type of position and authority,” said Rebecca Zdonczyk, a parishioner.

McManus’ neighbors in Rhode Island say this is out of character for the bishop.

“It’s not the kind of thing I would associate with his behavior. He is a bishop and a model citizen, a great neighbor, everything else, that is all I can say for him,” said Michael Stanziano, a neighbor.

A woman who said she was the bishop’s sister said he is a wonderful man.

McManus is due back in court May 28.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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