These three statements, from a boy and his parents, were made at the sentencing of the perpetrator.
March 4, 2003
My decision to be here today is not for catharsis; it is not for the criminal; it is to expose the abhorrence of this crime and its perpetrators. It is to make the future of other children safer and uncorrupted by the hands of disgusting predators.
This is my impact statement. It is not only meant to show the hideous impact it has had on my life, but to impact this audience in an urge to make a change now.
In August 1999 I died. I was murdered by a trusted friend, a 35-year-old priest, Michael Hands.
I did not physically see it happen, though. Years earlier he had slowly and painfully knifed at my young eyes. I suppose my blindness heightened the ravaging pain I slowly endured.
He forcefully raped my morbid body as I lay there screaming in anguish. It was a slow, painful death, the kind one would wish on a childhood enemy; yet the painful irony is that it was my childhood.
As a 13-year-old boy, my body was brutally raped and my innocence murdered by a selfish, despicable, manipulative beast. Struggling to hold on to whatever life continued to possess my cold body, I released my final breath, shortened by a final blow into my body. He stood there, still naked and out of breath and stared at my cold blue corpse. My last imprinted childhood memory before its death is that of Michael's lips, with a smirk. "What's wrong ... ? You should be smiling."
I was raped numerous times while I knew this man. Michael was a role model for me.
He bought me things, was kind to my entire family, and I trusted him. He destroyed every ounce of faith within my soul, shattering my dreams, relationships, and my entire well being.
I suppose he enjoyed the sight of my tortured body. Although everyone saw my cold corpse, no one knew of my death. People are terrified to see personified death. No one saw the color behind my blue eyes.
I am determined to show beauty beyond my death. Nothing takes the past away like the future, and mine is sure to be a bright one. Now, almost four years after my first rape and two since my last, we sit before a repulsive, angry, manipulative predator, a man with no regrets to neither me, my family nor those who he has affected through his destructive behavior.
Caught with hands as crimson as my blood, he has neither shown remorse nor admitted his crimes to himself, and for once I am quite glad with who I have become. I am not you, Michael Hands, and I have never met someone who has selectively murdered the childhood of countless victims and the faith of millions of former believers.
Mother of the Victim's Statement
March 4, 2003
What is the impact of evil? You came into our family with a plan. Were you that arrogant and narcissistic to believe that you could control yourself?
Years went by and we confronted you about your relationship with our children. What happened to your sacred vows? Your faith that was so real to you? Your morality, that you preached so well? How can you now justify any of this?
You need to take full responsibility, responsibility for your deceit, responsibility for your dishonesty, responsibility for your manipulation, responsibility for the evil that you inflicted on my family.
You are the devil's advocate.
I will not allow you to justify any of this, on any level. I will not allow you to be the victim. You haunt me; my thoughts are permeated by your evil. My son's statement to the police haunts me; your statement haunts me more. My mother's face when I told her haunts me; your face haunts me more.
Thursday nights haunt me. How could you abuse my son in my home and then sit beside me, eat dessert and watch TV? What were you thinking?
Christmas Eves at my house. My entire family loved you. You buried my grandmother; you married family and friends. You were a part of us. My worst nightmare is that you might have buried my son.
What were you thinking?
You have taken my son from me. The innocence of his childhood is gone. You have taken my motherhood from me. You have violated my character, my essence, my soul, my peace, my faith.
There can be no true justice that can bring back what I have lost. Revenge doesn' t work for me; it never has. You knew that about me.
Did you use that, too? What were you thinking?
How can I now find peace? A day does not go by that I am not consumed by circumstance.
Why should I have to question myself every day? I question my instincts, I question my ability to trust, I question my faith, I question my ability to be a mother.
Why should I question who I am?
What were you thinking? How do I get back to normal, when normal will never be the same?
I try to regain my peace; I can't. I try to understand my son and know what will make him healthy; I don't have the answer. I feel the disconcerting silence of my other children; I don't know what to say. I see the anger and the frustration in my husband; I don't know how to console him.
How do we hold it all together?
This is now my responsibility to not lose sight of the good in my life, the love of my family and friends that offer their support.
Will this good triumph over your evil?
Can we get beyond the anger, the pain, and the insidious path that led you to destroy so many lives?
Forgiveness does not enter my mind, because I cannot reconcile all that has happened to my family or yours. My guilt overwhelms me. How can my son not hate me for failing to protect him? Is that not the purpose of motherhood, to protect our children? Can he ever forgive me when I cannot forgive myself?
What was I thinking?
This is the struggle and the brokenness that prevents what is normal to ever be again.
What is the impact of evil? The blaming of the victim, the struggles, the questioning, the pain we endure every day of our lives. We have to take responsibility because you refuse to take responsibility for your evil behavior. It is time for you to step up and truly examine your character without any justification or excuse on any level. I refuse to allow it.
Father of the Victim's Statement
March 4, 2003
How can I describe the pain, anguish, and frustration that Mike Hands brought into the life of my family? It is difficult to put into words.
Like the ocean, the feelings come in waves, some are predictable; others are huge, crashing over you, dragging you under, turning you violently and tossing you back to the shore with nothing left.
This is what our lives have been since May of 2001. That is when we discovered the real Mike Hands, the Mike Hands whose sole purpose was sexual abuse, the Mike Hands who fabricated another persona in order to gain our trust and acceptance, and, with it, access to my children.
Everything in Mike's life was a lie. For all of his attempts at being special and unique, he is nothing but a cliche, a bad joke. A priest who molests little boys: What can be more stereotypical than that? What Mike's life boils down to is that he is a pedophile and nothing more, the most disgusting useless life form on the planet, food for the lowest form of amoebic dysentery.
Our son will never be the same. We were all robbed of his childhood.
Mike justifies his crimes with his own story of inappropriate touching by another priest when he was young. He claims this has deeply affected him. This only makes his victimization of my son worse; that knowing his own pain, he still chose to become the insidious predator that attempted to destroy my family.
This kind of pain and anger can never be erased.
This case should have ended long ago with a lengthy State prison term. But during this 22-month rollercoaster I learned that no amount of justice can ever change what has happened to my son.
It is like a wound that's reopened with every court date and news story. The healing is continually disrupted.
My family needs this chapter to end.
One purpose in speaking today is to protect other children and their families. My recommendation to the Court is to register Mike Hands as a level-3 sex offender.
In closing, I would like to say my heart goes out to the Hands family. Mike has dragged them into hell, too. This can't be any easier on them.
If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.