Former Mid-South worship leader accused of rape

ATOKA, TN (WMC) - A former Mid-South worship leader stands accused of raping two underage boys.

Tipton County investigators said a 17-year-old boy came forward this week to accuse Ronnie Gorton, the former worship leader at Awakening Church in Atoka.

The teen said Gorton sexually assaulted, molested, and raped him on multiple occasions--with the most recent crime happening just weeks ago.

Atoka Police Department said it received a similar report about Gorton from a different man who said something similar happened to him years ago. The 20-year-old said he was also underage at the time.

Jessica Yale owns a hair salon not far from the church and used to attend the church.

"I loved going there. It seemed like a great group of people," Yale said. "It's terrible, the entire situation. It's one of those things that makes you just want to throw up just sitting there thinking about it."

Yale said the church staff closed the church doors recently and even took down its Facebook page.

"I don't know a hundred percent if that's the reason why they're closing down. I just know they're going through a really tough time right now," Yale said.

WMC Action News 5 went to the church to get a comment. Nobody answered the door.

Investigators said Gorton was taken in for psychiatric evaluation. They said he threatened suicide after learning of the accusations.

"Anytime there's an allegation of sexual misconduct it's alarming. Again, especially when it's someone in a position of authority, people that we trust," Tipton County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Billy Daugherty said.

At this time, no charges have been filed against Gorton.

Tipton County Sheriff's Office and Atoka Police Department are investigating the accusations.

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