Warrant Alleges Pattern of Sexual Abuse by East Windsor Priest
By Kelly Glista
The Hartford Courant
April 15, 2014
An East Windsor priest who came to the attention of law enforcement when he reported feeling threatened by a local teenager had exploited his relationship with the teen in order to gain sexual contact, according to an arrest warrant unsealed on Tuesday.
The Rev. Paul Gotta, 55, is facing several sexual assault charges after he was arrested in March in connection with the alleged abuse. Gotta was indicted last year on federal firearms charges for allegedly helping the teen acquire weapons. Gotta reported the guns to authorities after their relationship soured, the warrant says.
According to the warrant, Gotta spent years developing a relationship with the teen, whose family attended one of the parishes in East Windsor where Gotta served as priest. Gotta employed the 16-year-old to do odd jobs for the church in 2012, then allegedly used the employment as an excuse to be alone with him. The teen often would take the bus to the church rectory immediately after school, the warrant says.
The teen told police that, at first, Gotta would grope him or ask him to reach into Gotta's front pocket to retrieve keys when Gotta had his hands full, the warrant says. Gotta had the teen do personal chores in addition to work for the church, including doing Gotta's laundry, and the teen told police Gotta watched him as he folded the priest's underwear, the warrant says.
The warrant also says Gotta showed the teen a pornographic video and once called the teen into his bedroom in the rectory and jumped on him, wearing only underwear, and pinned him to the floor.
The sexual contact escalated in the spring and summer of 2012, according to the warrant. At one point, Gotta allegedly began forcing the teen to strip before he could receive his paycheck each month for working at the church. The warrant also alleges that Gotta gave the teen extra money, which he referred to as "hush money."
During the summer of 2012, the teen went to Arizona on vacation with his family. Before he left, Gotta gave the teen money to purchase a firearm for him, the warrant says. The teen told police he thought that if he purchased the firearm for Gotta, the sexual contact would stop, the warrant says.
"Investigators discovered that a pattern of manipulation by Father Paul Gotta contributed to [the victim's] willingness to participate in illegal activities on Father Paul Gotta's behalf," the warrant states.
The teen told police that, on one occasion in February 2013, he had a bad migraine when he got off the bus after school and asked Gotta to take him home to get his medication. Gotta told the teen that he had migraine medication, and the teen said the pain was so bad he took the pill offered to him by the priest, according to the warrant.
The next thing the teen could remember, the warrant says, was being on the couch in the rectory with his pants off and Gotta there with him. The teen said he fell in and out of consciousness and awoke the next morning at his house with pain in his anus so severe that he asked his father to take him to the hospital, the warrant says.
The boy lied about the reason for the pain, and was treated and released, the warrant states.
When the teen asked Gotta what he had done, Gotta told him it was a dream, the warrant says. After that, the teen began refusing Gotta's demands for sexual contact, according to the warrant.
They maintained a working relationship until one day in April 2013, when Gotta told the teen he had a job lined up at a parish with a school. The teen said that he told Gotta it was not a good idea for him to be at a parish with a school for young children, and that Gotta became enraged and fired him, the warrant states.
In May 2013, Gotta requested a court order preventing the teen from coming onto church properties, saying he felt threatened by the teen, according to the warrant.
The teen, now 18 years old, was arrested in June on firearms charges, but as the investigation continued, Gotta's credibility was called into question by investigators. The teen eventually accepted a plea deal and is awaiting sentencing.
Gotta pleaded not guilty to both the sexual assault charges and the federal firearms charges. Both cases are ongoing.
Gotta was placed on leave by the Catholic Church last year when the allegations that he sexually abused a minor first surfaced. He will remain on leave until the charges are adjudicated, said Maria Zone, a spokeswoman for the Hartford Archdiocese.
Gotta had been serving as priest at both Saint Philip's and Saint Catherine's parishes in East Windsor.