Ex-Tennessee youth pastor accused of child sex crimes found guilty on 24 counts

Ronnie Gorton, 40, was arrested in 2016 after being accused of sexually abusing minors. He was previously a youth pastor at the Awakening Church in Tipton County.
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Ronnie Gorton, 40, was arrested in 2016 after being accused of sexually abusing minors. He was previously a youth pastor at the Awakening Church in Tipton County.

A former Tennessee youth pastor was found guilty on 24 counts connected to child sex crimes.

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Ronnie Gorton, 40, was arrested in 2016 after being accused of sexually abusing minors. He was previously a youth pastor at the Awakening Church in Tipton County.

Sources told WHBQ-TV back in 2016 that the church is where Gorton made contact with several of his victims.

He was indicted in July 2018 on 47 counts: rape, statutory rape by an authority figure (16 counts), sexual battery by an authority figure (17 counts), aggravated sexual battery (five counts), sexual exploitation of a minor (two counts), contributing to the delinquency of a minor (two counts), furnishing alcohol to minors (two counts) and violating the Child Protection Act (two counts).

One of Gorton's alleged victims was under 13 years old, authorities said.

The investigation began after one victim came forward to Atoka police in January and said he was sexually assaulted multiple times by Gorton, authorities said. After that report, a friend called police and said Gorton was suicidal and preparing to kill himself, authorities said.

On Wednesday, a jury found Gorton guilty on 24 counts: statutory rape by an authority figure (11 counts), sexual battery by an authority figure (seven counts), sexual exploitation of a minor (two counts), contributing to the delinquency of a minor (two counts) and furnishing alcohol to minors (two counts).

Gorton is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 8 for those charges, and attorneys told WHBQ that it is unclear when he will face the remaining charges from the 2018 indictment.

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