Ex-priest admits molesting child in Charlton

A former Roman Catholic priest admitted Friday he’d engaged in sexual contact with a child.

Michael Hands, 51, of Easton, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, a class E felony, before Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said he faces seven to eight years in prison when sentenced March 2.

Hands admitted that he engaged in oral sexual contact with a child under the age of 17 on two occasions in July in the town of Charlton. State police based in Malta determined that he began a relationship with the victim online and cultivated it over a period of months before arranging to meet the victim in person.

Hands in September was hit with a nine-count indictment that includes charges of use of a child in a sexual performance; first-degree disseminating indecent materials to minors; and four counts of third-degree criminal sexual act.

Assistant District Attorney Michele Schettino prosecuted the case.

It was not the first such incident for Hands. The former priest in the Diocese of Rockville Centre was convicted in 2003 of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy on Long Island and served 15 months in prison.

Hands said at the time he had been abused as a seminary student, and he was commended by the prosecutor for cooperating in the investigation of his abuser.

He moved to Washington County in 2013. 


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