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Priest Expected To Plead Guilty In Sex Abuse Case

The Rev. Michael Hands Faces Jail Time

Feb 4, 2003 | AP A Long Island priest who has already admitted to sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy in Nassau County is expected to plead guilty to similar charges Tuesday in a Suffolk County courtroom in a deal that would have him serve less than two years in jail.

The Rev. Michael Hands, 36, is expected to plead guilty to two felony charges of sodomy and attempted sodomy in exchange for the sentence, Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow said during a court proceeding last week. The case has seen numerous postponements in the more than 18 months since Hands was first arrested.

With time off for good behavior, Hands would likely serve 16 months in jail and five years' probation.

Hands admitted in a Nassau County courtroom last March that he had sex with the boy, who was 13 or 14 at the time, in his living quarters at the St. Raphael Rectory in East Meadow.

His guilty plea on Tuesday is expected to cover similar accusations involving the boy while Hands was assigned to St. Philip Neri Church in Northport.

The relationship began in 1999 and lasted for a little over a year.

He was suspended from the Diocese of Rockville Centre after his arrest in May 2001.

Hands, who had been cooperating with a grand jury investigation into how the Diocese of Rockville Centre has handled claims of sexual abuse, was taken into custody last month after allegedly violating an agreement with Suffolk County prosecutors to stay away from pornographic Internet sites.

Although he has not been charged with any additional crimes, Braslow increased bail for Hands from $25,000 to $1 million, a figure he was unable to post.

Hands also claims in a deposition for a civil lawsuit that he was molested by a priest as a teenager and that when he brought his claims to the attention of the diocese, he was encouraged to keep quiet.

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