May 8, 2001 NYRegion
Priest on Long Island Is Charged With Sexual Abuse
of Teenage Boy

ARDEN CITY, N.Y., May 7 The police in Suffolk County said today that they had
charged a 34- year-old Roman Catholic priest in the sexual abuse of a teenage boy over the
last year and a half.
The Rev. Michael R. Hands was arrested where he lives at St. Raphael's Roman Catholic
Church in East Meadow on Friday night, and was charged with sexual abuse and multiple
counts of sodomy, Detective Lt. Edward P. Reilly, commander of the Suffolk police sex
crimes section, said in a news release.
Father Hands worked at St. Raphael's since June 28 and previously worked for two years at
St. Philip Neri Church, in Northport, where at least one of the incidents took place, said
Officer Randy Jaret, a police spokesman.
The priest left St. Philip Neri Church because of cutbacks in the parish, said Joanne C.
Novarro, a spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. Officials at
that church said they did not know of any problems and that he was a popular priest.
"He served here for two years and he worked very hard," said the Rev. Peter J. Garry, the
pastor at St. Philip Neri Church. "I had no awareness, no inkling of anything like that. I am as
surprised as anyone. I am sure there are a lot of people devastated in the parish."
Born in Staten Island and raised on Long Island, Father Hands was ordained in 1993. He
first worked at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in West Islip, for five years before moving to
St. Philip Neri, Ms. Novarro said.
Msgr. John Alesandro, the diocesan administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Rockville Centre, said in a statement: "If Father Hands has in fact done the things of which he
is accused then the harm done to this particular child is a profound tragedy. Our hearts go out
to the alleged victim and to his family and we stand ready to offer them whatever help the
church can provide to begin their healing."
Ms. Novarro said it was her understanding the boy was 14 when the alleged incidents took
place and is now 15.