Currently The Leader's managing editor, Echo Day is an 11-year veteran of the paper.

Ronnie Gorton July 2019

Former pastor Ronnie Gorton, left, sits at the counsel table while attorney Blake Ballin and asst. district attorney general Walt Freeland discuss his proposed plea deal with Judge Joe Walker III.

The day before he was set to stand trial, the former Munford pastor accused of sexually assaulting teenagers was expected to make a plea deal.

However, no deal with the state was reached Monday. 

Ronnie Gorton, who was the pastor at the now-shuttered Awakening Church, was indicted in both March 2018 and July 2018 after three teenaged boys accused him of sexually assaulting and raping them. 

Dressed in jeans and a gray t-shirt, the 40-year-old sat at the counsel table with his hands together, fingers intertwined as if he were praying, while attorney Blake Ballin and assistant district attorney general Walt Freeland discussed the plea deal with judge Joe Walker III.

"We're in a situation now we thought there'd be a resolution," Freeland said. "We will be proceeding on Aug. 26."

The original charges include one count of rape of a child, one count of rape, 35 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, 36 counts of sexual battery of an authority figure, seven counts of violation of the child protection act (which is ongoing child abuse), five counts of aggravated sexual battery, and two counts each of exploitation of a minor by electronic means, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and purchasing alcohol for a minor.

After the first victim came forward, Gorton’s friend reported the pastor was armed with a handgun and wanted to commit suicide on Jan. 31, 2018. Gorton met with Atoka detectives and was taken into custody for a psychological evaluation.

Gorton is out on bond and has been living in Union City.

Echo Day is The Leader's managing editor. To contact her, call 901-476-7116 or email eday@covingtonleader.com.

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