April 12, 2005

Legal wrangling over Hands



April 12, 2005

While cooperating with investigators regarding allegations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, defrocked Catholic priest Michael Hands ended up cooperating more than he should have, and let police in on some of his own wrongdoings, his attorney said yesterday.

Hands, 38, returned to a Riverhead courtroom yesterday for the continuation of a hearing to determine his risk level as a registered sex offender. Prosecutors are asking for the highest level, 3, which would put Hands on a state registry for 10 years and would allow law enforcement to notify Hands' neighbors and publish his address. Hands' defense attorney is asking for a lesser level, saying he is rehabilitated and no longer a threat.

Hands pleaded guilty in 2003 to charges of sodomy and attempted sodomy of a young teen whose family he befriended while he was a parish priest. In exchange for cooperating in a grand jury probe into charges of sex abuse in the Rockville diocese, he served 15 months in prison and was released a year ago.

Much of yesterday's hearing was taken up by wrangling between attorneys and Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow on the admissibility of several damning pieces of evidence Suffolk prosecutors discovered after striking their deal with Hands.

Posted by kshaw at April 12, 2005 08:37 AM