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Priest Accused Of Sex Abuse Placed On Leave
The Rev. Paul Gotta Came To Public Attention In June When He Told Police About Teenager’s Plan For Graduation Prank
5:31 p.m. EDT, July 15, 2013
HARTFORD — An East Windsor priest has been placed on leave by the Catholic Church after being accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Hartford Archdiocese said Monday.
The Rev. Paul Gotta had earlier come to public attention in June when he told police about an 18-year-old who had told him he was planning a memorable prank for his graduation ceremonies. Police later charged the teenager with attempting to make a bomb, possession of explosives and other charges.
The state Department of Children and Families has received a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor involving Gotta, who is administrator of St. Philip and St. Catherine churches in East Windsor, said Maria Zone, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. Police are investigating the allegation, she said in a written statement.
“The Archdiocese of Hartford has a protocol in place when such an allegation is made,” Zone said. “That protocol has been followed and Father Gotta has been placed on administrative leave until the matter is resolved through the legal system.
“The Archdiocese of Hartford was surprised and disturbed to learn that such an allegation has been made. The Archdiocese of Hartford condemns the type of misconduct that has been alleged and extends its sincere sympathies to those adversely affected by it. If anyone has information relevant to this matter, please contact the East Windsor Police Department.”
East Windsor police declined to comment.
According to court documents, Kyle Bass, of East Windsor, had talked to the priest about pulling a prank at his graduation at the Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield, saying he would “make sure they would remember he was there.”
Bass was arrested June 7 and charged with two counts of criminal attempt to manufacture bombs, illegal possession of explosives, possession of a silencer, possession of fireworks and breach of peace. His case was transferred from Superior Court in Enfield to Hartford, where he is scheduled to appear Aug. 1. Bass is being held on $750,000 bail.
Gotta contacted local and federal authorities to talk about several worrisome comments made by Bass, according to an arrest warrant.
Bass, 18, who knew how to make explosives from household products, had said the gunman in the Newtown shootings could have made better use of his semi-automatic firearms by making them fully automatic, the warrant states. He also said the suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon could have used something smaller and more effective than a pressure cooker, the warrant says.
Gotta also told authorities about a collection of guns at Bass’ residence that had belonged to Bass’ grandfather.
Police searched Bass’ home on Winkler Road on June 4, and found two shotguns, three rifles, ammunition, pipes, silencers made of soda bottles, a shotgun made of steel pipes, fireworks and chemicals.
After the chemicals were analyzed, investigators determined that Bass was creating an explosive mixture, the warrant states.
Bass told police the prank he wanted to pull a prank at graduation involving welding the shell of a Volkswagen Beetle to the school flagpole, and that he intended to spray a foul-smelling liquid on his gloved hand so the odor would transfer to the principal’s hand when Bass shook it while accepting his diploma, the warrant says.
Bass also said he and Gotta had discussed making a shotgun, which he tested in the backyard in the presence of the priest, the warrant says.
Gotta told police that, in 2011, Bass showed him how to mix white pellets and sugar to make fire, explaining that it was a good way to get back at people, and also showed him how to make napalm with Styrofoam and gasoline, the warrant states.
In May, Gotta asked East Windsor police to warn Bass to stay away from St. Phillip’s and St. Catherine’s. Bass had told Gotta to bring his gun when walking his dog because, “You never know when someone will jump out of the bushes and shoot you or your dog,” the warrant states.
Gotta also found three bullets on his doorstep, the warrant states.
Courant Staff Writer Hilda Munoz and FOX CT’s Rocco Paolino contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant
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