MUNFORD, TN (WMC) - New allegations surfaced suggesting a former Mid-South pastor raped three children.
A Tipton County grand jury returned a new indictment against Ronnie Gorton on Monday. Gorton was re-arrested while at a hearing in court on his pending charges.
"We certainly would've thought they would've concluded their investigation," said Blake Ballin, Gorton's defense attorney. "I don't really understand why all of a sudden another indictment has popped up."
Ballin said he was surprised the former worship leader got slapped with more charges. Gorton posted an additional $50,000 bond and is now out of jail. He'd already bonded out the first time for $100,000.
"His stance is that he's committed no crime, so absolutely he wasn't expected to be arrested on new charges, because he's done nothing wrong. He and I were both surprised," Ballin said.
The new indictment includes 44 counts ranging from rape of a child to statutory rape and sexual battery by an authority figure. The indictment centers around the presence of a third victim and alleges a pattern of abuse between 2014, when the alleged victim was 12, and 2018.
Gorton was arrested after two similar indictments back in March, alleging sexual abuse of two underage boys. The new indictment does not specify the sex of the third victim.
Gorton is the former worship leader at The Awakening Church in Atoka.
The investigation started in February when a 17-year-old came forward saying Gorton sexually assaulted, molested, and raped him in Gorton's home on multiple occasions. Atoka police officers said they received an additional, similar report from a man who is now 20.
Ballin said he and his client have yet to see the new indictment.
"The next step is that the prosecutors have to turn over evidence. We don't have any of that information yet, but we certainly look forward to looking at it and defending Mr. Gorton," said Ballin.
Gorton is currently staying with his parents in Union City, Tennessee.
A trial date in at least one of the indictments is set for early next year.