Former Atoka pastor arrested for rape of 2 underage boys

Gorton being escorted (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Gorton being escorted (Source: WMC Action News 5)

ATOKA, TN (WMC) - A former Mid-South pastor accused of raping two underage boys has been arrested, Tipton County Sheriff's Office confirms.

Ronnie Gorton, the former worship leader at Awakening Church in Atoka, was arrested Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with 47 counts related to sexual abuse.

The charges include aggravated sexual battery of a victim under the age of 13, rape, sexual battery by an authority figure, enticing a child to buy alcohol, and sexual exploitation of a minor.

The 39-year-old married former pastor is being held in Tipton County on a $500,000 bond.

Investigators said several of those counts pertain to abuse of the same victim. They did not specify how many victims they believe Gorton abused.

Tipton County investigators said a 17-year-old boy accused Gorton of sexually assaulting, molesting, and raping him on multiple occasions in Gorton's home, with the most recent crime happening earlier this year.

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.

"It's terrible, the entire situation," former church member Jessica Yale said. "It's one of those things that makes you just want to throw up thinking about it."

A Tipton County grand jury indicted Gorton on Monday and investigators picked him up Tuesday.

"In their very nature the charges are appalling," Tipton County Sheriff Chief Billy Daugherty said. "Given the fact that the suspect the alleged offender in this incident is a pastor someone that we trust someone that we worship with on Sunday. Somewhere where we send our children is egregious, it's behind disturbing."

The Awakening Church is now closed and there is a "For Lease" sign in front of it.

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