Defrocked Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting child in Saratoga County

September 05, 2017 06:58 PM

BALLSTON SPA - A 51-year-old former Catholic priest was in court Tuesday morning, speaking softly. It's a stark contrast to the hard time Michael Hands could be facing.

After he was convicted of sodomizing a 14-year-old in Suffolk County several years ago, Hands was tossed out of the priesthood.


In recent years, he's been living and working at Easton Mountain near Greenwich, a resort that bills itself as a sanctuary and retreat "created by gay men as a gift to the world."

According to their website, Hands was the membership director at Easton Mountain. He's seen in several videos on YouTube promoting the resort's programs. In one, Hands soaks in a hot tub and asks, "What does it mean to be whole? To be fully human and fully alive, I believe is probably the most attractive human being on the planet."

It's Hands' attraction to children that police and prosecutors say has them worried. They say he contacted a child online and engaged in sex with him in Charlton in late July.

"They are the type of circumstances that we work tirelessly and diligently to hold people responsible when they are engaging in conduct that preys upon vulnerable young victims," said Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen.

Hands is charged with nine counts in all, including use of a child in a sexual performance and promoting and distributing child porn.

The person who answered the phone at Easton Mountain Tuesday afternoon said Hands was let go after his arrest.

If convicted of the top counts, Hands faces a maximum sentence of 47 years in state prison.

Judge Jim Murphy ordered Hands held on $75,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond.


Mark Mulholland

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