Trial date set for former pastor facing child sex charges

ATOKA, Tenn. — Watching on a screen from jail Monday, Ronnie Gorton's long list of charges were read to him by a judge.

The former pastor of Awakening Church in Atoka is accused of sexually abusing kids, one young then 13-years-old.

His trail date was set for July 30.

His charges include rape, 16 counts of statutory rape and 22 counts of sexual battery.

Based on other charges, it appears he's accused of showing porn to children too.

"I just hope the the parents of those kids love on their children. Let them know it's not their fault," Tipton County resident Felicia Watkins said.

We first told you about Gorton in February when we learned an underage boy in Atoka accused him of raping him.

Since then, we've talked to Gorton's former neighbors in Drummonds, who say they always saw young people at his home, but never thought anything sinister was going on.

"It's a bad situation when you allow your kids to be around someone that you trust, and they would harm a child like that," Watkins said.

Watkins says she was stunned to hear Gorton's list of charges.

"It does disgust me a little bit, and it makes me worry about who I would trust my kids with," she said.

She wonders if he suffers from mental illness.

"I would never judge at all. I would just want to make sure he gets the help he needs. I mean he shouldn't be preaching, I know that, When you're preaching people need to trust you, especially kids," Watkins said.

Gorton's attorney was not in court Monday.

We called his office for comment, but we have not heard back.