Trial for former Atoka pastor accused of sexually assaulting boys begins

Data pix.

TIPTON COUNTY, Tenn. — The trial for a former pastor accused of sexually assaulting several boys is now underway.

Ronnie Gorton, the former pastor of Awakening Church in Atoka, is facing 47 charges, including 16 counts of statutory rape.

After a jury was selected Monday morning, Assistant District Attorney General Walt Freeland cautioned the jury that testimony would be, "extremely graphic."

After lunch, the jury heard testimony from one victim who says, at the age of 14, he and another male drank liquor, watched pornography and engaged in sexual activity that was initiated by Gorton.

The allegations against Gorton first became public after deputies showed up to his home January 31 while responding to a report of a suicidal man.

During their investigation, they learned that Atoka police were investigating Gorton after an underage boy accused Gorton of raping him. That incident allegedly took place at Gorton's home just weeks earlier.

Daugherty said two more victims came forward after WREG’s initial story aired, bringing the total to three.

One of Gorton’s alleged victims was under the age of 13, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Based on other charges he’s facing, it would appear he showed some of his victims pornography and bought alcohol for at least one.

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

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.