A Tipton County pastor was arrested on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted him on 47 charges related to sexually abusing minors.
Ronnie Gorton, the former pastor of Awakening Church in Atoka, Tennessee, has been accused by three victims so far, Tipton County Sheriff Chief Deputy Billy Daugherty confirmed. One of the pastor’s victims was under the age of 13.
Walking into jail Tuesday, 39-year-old Gorton kept his head down and wouldn’t answer reporters’ questions.
Gorton’s former Drummonds neighbors said they couldn’t help but notice all of the young people who frequented the home he shared with his wife.
“We knew he had a church and, you know, he had boys over there a lot,” neighbor Donnie Overbeck told WREG-TV.
Sonja Young also remembers seeing boys at the 39-year-old pastor’s house going back several years and ending earlier this year.
“They were different boys. I mean, they would have a couple of them for a few months,” Young said.
“When they’re cutting the grass, three or four at any given time,” said Overbeck.
“Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We thought, ‘Hey, he’s doing something good. He’s taking these kids in and doing good things,’” he said.
Gorton faces the following 47 charges:
– 1 count rape
– 5 counts aggravated sexual battery (victim under 13 years old)
– 17 counts sexual battery by an authority figure
– 2 counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child
– 16 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure
– 2 counts offense of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor
– 2 counts contributing to delinquency
– 2 counts enticing a child to purchase alcoholic beverages
“There could be more, potentially, victims and certainly if there are any victims that remain, we encourage them to come forward,” Daugherty said.
— Luke Jones (@LukeJonesTV) March 6, 2018