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Massachusetts bishop pleads not guilty to Rhode Island DUI charge

The leader of a Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts charged with driving drunk in Rhode Island pleaded not guilty and was allowed to remain free on $1,000 bail at his arraignment Tuesday.

Worcester Bishop Robert McManus, 61, wearing a white clerical collar in court, did not speak during the two-minute hearing, letting his lawyer enter the not guilty plea on his behalf to charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.

"I have instructed him not to comment," his attorney, former Rhode Island House Speaker William Murphy, said outside.

Murphy referred reporters instead to a statement McManus issued Monday is which he apologized for "a terrible error in judgment" by driving after drinking wine at dinner.

McManus was arrested in Narragansett on Saturday after allegedly striking another vehicle and driving from the scene, police said.

The other driver followed McManus and called police. McManus has a vacation home in the area.

"There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my action," McManus said.

He also asked for forgiveness from his friends, family and the people he serves.

McManus declined to take a blood alcohol test and faces an additional civil charge of refusing to submit to a chemical test, which will he heard before a traffic tribunal at a later time, said Narragansett police Capt. Sean Corrigan.

McManus is a Providence, R.I., native and served as auxiliary bishop in Providence for five years, before he was installed as head of the Worcester Diocese in 2004. He's past chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Education.

McManus is due back in court May 28.

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