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L.I. Priest Gets 2 Years In Jail For Sodomizing Boy

Mar 4, 2003 | AP

A Long Island priest who admitted sodomizing a teenage boy was sentenced to two years in jail on Tuesday, as part of a deal with prosecutors in two counties where the abuse took place.

Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow gave the Rev. Michael Hands two consecutive one-year sentences after the priest pleaded guilty last month to the pair of sodomy charges stemming from sexual relations he had with the boy while he was assigned to St. Philip Neri Church in Northport.

The case against Hands stretched for more than 20 months through courts in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, and was delayed in part because he cooperated with a grand jury investigation into pedophile priests throughout Long Island.

Hands had already admitted in a Nassau County courtroom last year that he also had sex with the boy in his living quarters at the St. Raphael Rectory in East Meadow. The relationship began in 1999 and lasted for a little more than a year. He was suspended from the Diocese of Rockville Centre after his arrest in May 2001.

Hands' sentence in Nassau County, on March 12, is expected to run concurrently with the Suffolk County term, said Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

With time off for good behavior, Hands would likely serve 16 months in jail and then be given five years probation, his defense lawyer, Peter Rubin, has said. He will serve his time at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead.

Spota told reporters he is satisfied with the sentence, noting that Hands provided key assistance to the grand jury investigation into the response of diocesan officials to allegations of priest sex abuse.

The grand jury's 180-page report released by the district attorney's office last month found that the Diocese of Rockville Centre repeatedly protected priests accused of sexual abuse by transferring them and shielding them from being discovered.

The diocese has rejected those characterizations.

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