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Long Island Priest Says Church Officials Protected Abusive Monsignor

Jan 3, 2003 | AP A Long Island priest who has confessed to abusing a 13-year-old boy said in a sworn statement that a top church official pressured him not to disclose his own allegations of abuse against a popular monsignor, a published report said.

Rev. Michael Hands said in a sworn statment that Msgr. Francis Caldwell, the head of priest personnel for the Diocese of Rockville Center, asked him to remain silent because the church wanted to return his alleged abuser, Msgr. Charles Ribaudo, to St. Dominic's in Oyster Bay, Newsday reported Friday.

Bishop William Murphy removed Ribaudo as pastor of the church in Sept. 2001, after he learned Hands, 36, had alleged that Ribaudo had ''inappropriate sexual contact'' with him while he was a student at Holy Trinity High School. Ribaudo, now retired, previously denied Hands' charges.

Hands said in his statement that Caldwell told him the church wanted to reinstate Ribaudo in the parish and the only way that could happen was if Hands promised never to mention the alleged abuse.

In 138 pages of testimony, Hands names names in the Long Island church abuse scandal and discloses how officials handled cases of alleged abuse, including sending accused priests to other states.

In return, Hands hopes to win leniency when he is sentenced in Nassau Country Court later this month for sodomizing a boy he befriended, Newsday said.

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