Knoxville Businessman Sentenced On Rape Charges

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Knoxville (WVLT) - A prominent Knoxville businessman will avoid a trial on sex charges, but not time behind bars.

Morton's behind bars right now, serving the first few hours of a one year sentence.

His guilty plea to rape and sexual battery charges actually calls for an eight year sentence, but the deal calls for him to only serve one.

Victims' families say they're happy, but still disturbed that a family friend did this to their children.

After pleading guilty, jail guards wasted no time in taking Andrew Sterchi Morton into custody.

"I'm just glad that Mr. Morton has come to the realization that he's a child rapist and molester," says "John" a relative of the victim.

As some of the victims sobbed, Morton pleaded guilty to raping an 18-year-old friend of his daughter's who was at his home in February 2005 during a slumber party. Morton also pleaded guilty to the sexual battery of a 17-year-old girl he was acting as a chaperone on a trip with 40 students to a Gatlinburg chalet in April of 2005.

"He's doing fairly well. He and his family are ready to get this situation behind them. It's been a long ordeal for not only the victim's family but of coarse Mr. Morton's also," says Jeff Daniel, Morton's Attorney.

Family members of the victim waited a year and a half for justice and are pleased. But what's made this especially difficult is what used to be their close relationship to Morton as a family friend.

"Many, many nights of lost sleep. Many, many nights of anguish, inner turmoil trying to prosecute one of your friends. Very, very difficult but I'm sure it's difficult on his family as well," says "John".

Morton's attorney says his client has been clean and sober for a year and a half and is taking responsibility for his actions although denying he has a sexual addiction.

"Evaluated by a psychologist who felt basically his main problem was alcohol addiction and felt that if he could keep that under control he would not be a risk to the public," explains Daniel.

Judge Rex Ogle gave a stern warning to Morton not to break the terms of his probation when he gets out in a year or he will have to serve the rest of his eight year sentence.

His attorney says when he is released from jail he will have to register as a sex offender.


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