Pastor Ronnie Gorton Now Suicidal After Rape Allegations

“Anytime there’s an allegation of sexual misconduct it’s alarming. Again, especially when it’s someone in a position of authority, people that we trust.”

In statements to local news outlets, authorities revealed that Ronnie Gorton, lead pastor of The Awakening Church in Atoka, Tennessee, has been taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation after allegedly becoming suicidal and threatening to take his life after recent allegation that he raped two underage boys.

Tipton County investigators told WMCActionNews5 that an anonymous 17-year-old boy made statements last week alleging that Gorton, 39, sexually assaulted, molested, and raped him on several occasions. The Atoka Police Department reported receiving a similar complaint from a 20-year-old man who alleged that Gorton sexually assaulted him when he was a minor.

Billy Daugherty, Tipton County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy, told The Leader that the latest instance of alleged assault by Gorton took place on Jan. 31 and that the case is a multijurisdictional investigation.

“There’s an allegation in the county and an allegation in Atoka,” Daugherty said, adding that there was “nothing to indicate” any of the incidents occurred within the church.

Daugherty further explained that no criminal charges have been filed against the pastor. He was, however, taken into custody after meeting with detectives last Wednesday when a friend of Gorton’s reported that he was armed with a handgun and had threatened to commit suicide.

Daugherty also noted the natural reaction of members of the church and community to be alarmed by the allegations: “Anytime there’s an allegation of sexual misconduct it’s alarming. Again, especially when it’s someone in a position of authority, people that we trust.”

  • Psalms 118:8- It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. 
  • Micah 7:5- Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that, lieth in they bosom. 
  • Jeremiah 17:5- Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 
  • Galatians 6:3- For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 

Priest Removed For Alleged ‘Inappropriate Contact’ With Girl

Since the announcement, Cano’s information has been scrubbed from the church’s website as parishioners were left to grapple with the news.

LOS ANGELES — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese has removed a priest from a Los Angeles church on suspicion of having inappropriate conduct with multiple female parishioners — one of whom is an underage girl.

Officer Drake Madison tells the Daily News that police are investigating a child annoyance allegation against Father Juan Cano, who served as associate pastor at Our Lady of Grace church in Encino. Cano could not be reached for comment.

The Archdiocese announced his removal at Masses over the weekend.

The Archdiocese says it has a zero tolerance policy for any type of allegation relating to sexual misconduct relating to a child.

Cano 34, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, started at Our Lady of Grace in July 2015 with an announcement from the archdiocese about his miraculous life.

“When I was born, I had a tumor in my head which had no cure. … My parents and grandparents prayed to God for a miracle. … As I grew in the faith at the parish via my family’s involvement in the charismatic renewal, Bible study and religious education, I felt very drawn to the Eucharist, both in and outside of mass. In addition, I had daily contact with the parish priests. … It was such things that I know fed my priestly vocation,” Cano said at the time.

“It was surprising because the father was a really good man and he treated us like anybody else. I was surprised,” parishioner Giovanni Rios told ABC 7.

Rios, who has only been attending Our Lady of Grace for five months, said he felt church officials did the right thing in removing Cano.

“They did the right thing. They have to be really responsible, especially when we’re talking about kids,” he said.

The Archdiocese told ABC 7 that it has a zero-tolerance policy for any misconduct involving a child.

Clergy abuse survivors advocate Joelle Casteix questioned why it took the archdiocese more than a week to inform members of the parish about why Cano was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 19.

“Was there a written notice in the bulletin? No. Did they put a notice in the bulletin at St. James Parish in Redondo Beach where Cano worked before he became a priest? No. In fact, unless you were sitting in church this past Sunday, you would have no idea that you may need to talk to your children, sisters, wives, cousins, or friends about the abuse of power and sexual assault,” Casteix wrote in a blog post.

“But the Archdiocese WAS busy doing something: They were busy erasing Fr. Juan Cano from their websites. They didn’t have time to post a notice that he may have abused someone you love. But they had time to erase him, just like Stalin did to his enemies.”

Since the announcement, Cano’s information has been scrubbed from the church’s website as parishioners were left to grapple with the news.


Information from: (Los Angeles) Daily News, http://www.dailynews.com

Church Worship Leader Jordan Baird Sentenced to ONLY 8 Months for Sexual Abuse of Minor

Prosecutors said Baird is a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the girl for abuse, sent her sexually-suggestive messages and groped her multiple times at the Life Church between January and September 2015.

Approximately one month after he was convicted and jurors recommended he spend five months in prison for five counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor, Jordan Baird, a Christian pop singer and the son of Senior Pastors David and Jo Ann Baird of The Life Church in Virginia, was sentenced to eight months in jail.

Jordan’s legal troubles started July 7, 2016, when detectives from the Special Victims Unit of the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia responded to investigate inappropriate contact, which was reported to have occurred at Life Church in Manassas in 2015. The youth leader was convicted of five felony sex crimes with a minor in connection with an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old member of the congregation. The jury failed to reach a verdict on the charge of using electronic means to commit a sex crime with a minor Baird was facing. It is not yet clear if prosecutors will re-try that charge.

 

 

Jurors recommended Baird serve one month in jail for each conviction — five months total. Baird was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with the teenage girl who looked up to him as a mentor and considered him family, according to court testimony.

Prosecutors said Baird is a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the girl for abuse, sent her sexually-suggestive messages and groped her multiple times at the Life Church between January and September 2015. The teen testified during the trial she refused Baird’s unwanted sexual advances and told him what he was doing was wrong on more than one occasion.

Baird’s defense attorney, Todd Sanders, said his client crossed an emotional line when he sent the girl inappropriate messages. But the attorney said no touching took place and maintained his client’s actions did not violate any laws.

Sanders questioned the girl’s recollection of the alleged abuse and why she waited nearly a year to tell anyone about it. The defense attorney said the teen’s early accounts of what happened left out certain details and suggested people around her may have influenced her recovered memories.

Sanders suggested the anxiety the girl felt was caused by her fear that a young man she had feelings for would find out about the messages Baird sent her.

“She had everything to lose and nothing to gain,” the attorney said. “This church was everything to her. Jordan was a leader to her. He was like a big brother.” 

When asked why she didn’t immediately report the alleged abuse, the girl said she was “torn” about what to do because she didn’t want to lose her friends, her church family and all the volunteer opportunities the Life Church provided her. She said she worried the church would take Baird’s side because he is the son of the head pastor and told the girl he would take the secret “to the grave.”

“I remember feeling so stuck and no matter what, no one would believe me,” the teen testified. “I thought once I came forward I would lose everything.”

 

When she did come forward, the girl said her friends defended the church and turned on her. Jeremiyah Mullens, a former Life Church congregant, said other members called the girl “slurs” and “took the position that she was wrong in the situation.”

In June 2016, the teen said she told her mother Baird sent inappropriate messages to her after feelings of guilt and anxiety became so severe she couldn’t get out of bed that day. But the girl said she didn’t tell her mother the full story at that time because she knew it would mean her life would be turned upside down. 

“For so long, I tried to suppress everything and forget everything that happened,” she said. “But it all started to come back to me.”

When police came to interview the teen a couple of weeks later, she told them Baird inappropriately touched her but did not fully disclose every detail at that point either.

Renae Smith, the teen’s counselor, testified she diagnosed the girl with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The counselor said it’s common for those with PTSD to “disassociate” during abuse as a coping mechanism, which can later lead to gaps in memory.

But when a person with PTSD does start to remember their trauma, Smith said, they have vivid flashbacks to that moment and what took place becomes very clear to them. Smith said PTSD can delay memories but does not alter them. The doctor testified she has no reason to believe the teen is lying about the abuse.

“What I witnessed was a deep, spontaneous emotion,” Smith said. “You can tell when someone is genuine.”

 When the girl’s mother was asked why she didn’t immediately report the allegations to police, she said she didn’t know the full extent of what happened and her main concern was taking care of her daughter, who suffered a severe panic attack.

“I think I was in shock,” the girl’s mother said. “I wasn’t sure what to do. I’ve never been in a situation like this before.”

The teen’s father testified his family wanted to bring the allegations to light within the church first because they “believed the church would do the right thing.”

The parents said they asked the church to bring in a third-party to investigate what took place. But the church selected Steve Dawson, a close friend of the Bairds’ who was once a co-pastor at the church, the parents said.

“That was not a third party, obviously,” the girl’s father said.

Dawson testified he does not have a background in law enforcement or conducting investigations. He said Baird admitted sending inappropriate messages to the girl, but nothing else. While Gross questioned Dawson on the witness stand, he suggested Dawson left out key details he learned during his internal investigation when he was interviewed by police and refused to hand his notes over to law-enforcement officials.

The teen’s father said he recorded a meeting with Dawson in which he told the pastor Baird touched his daughter. On the stand, Dawson said he didn’t “recall” the father saying this. 

Gross also suggested through his questioning that the Life Church’s law firm instructed and advised Dawson through his investigation. 

The prosecutor pointed out Baird disclosed more information to Dawson than he did to police.

Gross attempted to introduce the testimonies of three other women who say Baird used his power in the church and his notoriety as a Christian pop singer to manipulate them into having inappropriate relationships and performing sex acts in the church. One of the girls was underage at the time of the alleged misconduct, the prosecutor said. But the judge wouldn’t allow the women’s testimonies because he said the information would be highly prejudicial in the criminal trial, citing case law.