MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee pastor faces 38 years in prison after being found guilty on 24 counts involving child sex abuse.
News outlets report that 41-year-old Ronnie Gorton received the sentence Friday in Tipton County. He was convicted on charges including sexual battery and statutory rape in August.
Judge Joe Walker said at the sentencing that Gorton used his position of authority as he “groomed minors for his sexual perversion.”
The 18-year-old victim told jurors the abuse started the day he moved in with Gorton and his wife in 2017. He said Gorton justified his actions by citing a Bible verse thah said “holding each other is just a way to show love.”
Gorton took the stand in August and denied molesting the victim during two hours of testimony, though he admitted providing alcohol to the youth and other teens.
The pastor at the now-defunct Awakening Church in Atoka still faces trials involving two other teenagers who accused him of rape. One was 12 at the time.