An East Windsor priest accused earlier this week of sexually assaulting a minor was arrested Friday on federal firearms charges. The Rev. Paul Gotta, 55, is charged with aiding and abetting both the unlawful transport of a firearm in interstate commerce and the purchase of a handgun by a juvenile, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office stated. Gotta was placed on leave by the Catholic Church on Monday after the state Department of Children and Families received a complaint regarding the sexual abuse of a minor that involved him, said Maria Zone, spokeswoman for the Hartford archdiocese. He also was connected to the investigation of a teenager arrested in June on weapons and explosives charges, and who allegedly made a threat against a Bloomfield school. East Windsor police are investigating the sexual assault allegation against Gotta, who is administrator of St. Philip and St. Catherine churches in East Windsor, Zone said in a written statement.
The firearms case against Gotta is being investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the East Windsor police.If convicted, Gotta, was living in Bridgeport when he was arrested but had lived in East Windsor, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the release.Gotta has been detained pending a hearing on July 25, a spokesman for a U.S. Attorney’s office said.In June, Gotta informed police that he was concerned about comments from an 18-year-old that he was planning to pull a prank at his graduation from the Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield.The teen, Kyle Bass, of East Windsor, was later charged with criminal attempt to manufacture bombs, illegal possession of explosives, possession of a silencer, possession of fireworks and breach of peace. A search of Bass’ home found two shotguns, three rifles, ammunition, pipes, silencers made of soda bottles, a shotgun made of steel pipes, fireworks and chemicals, the arrest warrant against him states.The warrant also states that Bass said he and Gotta had discussed making a shotgun, which he tested in the backyard in the presence of the priest.