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Prosecutor Accuses LI `Abuse' Priest of New `Criminal Activity'

Feb 13, 2002 | AP A Long Island priest awaiting sentencing for sex abuse was accused in court Monday of "engaging in criminal activity" over the weekend and was jailed after the judge raised his bail to $1 million cash.

Assistant District Attorney Emily Constant declined to say what criminal activity the Rev. Michael Hands may have engaged in; no new charges have been filed. Constant said only that Hands has voluntarily turned over his laptop computer and that the Computer Crime Section of the Suffolk police department was going over it.

Suffolk County Criminal Court Judge Stephen Braslow denied a prosecution request to revoke Hands' bail. Instead, Braslow increased the priest's bail from $25,000 to $1 million cash.

Following the court hearing, Constant confirmed that Hands has been cooperating with the district attorney's office in its investigation of alleged sexual abuse at the Diocese of Rockville Centre, its priests and its parishes.

"Nothing indicates any information was not credible and has been corroborated," Constant said.

Hands admitted in March to having sex with a teenage boy in his rectory and is to be sentenced Wednesday in Nassau County on sodomy and endangerment charges.

He also faces a seven-count indictment in neighboring Suffolk County involving the same 14-year-old victim on charges of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, said Constant.

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