New ARM director has abuse conviction – Morton still on probation for 2011 sentence

Published 8:13 am Friday, September 5, 2014

A new director at a local community service organization not only has a felony criminal record; he is still serving a court-imposed sentence for a child abuse conviction.
According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, Anthony “Shane” Morton, who was recently named director of Assistance Resource Ministries, is still on active felony probation and will remain so until Dec. 6, 2021.
Before being named director, Morton had served as the organization’s assistant director.
The Elizabehton-based charitable organization provides food, clothing and financial assistance to local families based on need and income.
The charges against Morton stem from a 2008 incident that occurred in Washington County where Morton was accused of abusing his 4-year-old stepson. Morton was indicted in the case by a Washington County Grand Jury in March 2009.
In 2011, Morton pled guilty to one count of attempted aggravated child abuse, which is a Class B felony under state law. In December of that year he was sentenced to serve 8 months in jail and also 10 years probation through the Alternative Community Corrections Program.
Judge Robert Cupp, who presided over the case, ordered Morton to serve his jail time in increments of two months each year for the first four years of his probation sentence. Morton still has a portion of the jail time to serve, but Cupp ruled during sentencing Morton could serve his jail time on work release.
Morton was originally charged with aggravated child abuse but the charge was lowered to attempted aggravated child abuse as part of a plea agreement. Morton had additionally been indicted on charges of one count of aggravated sexual battery and one count of child abuse, but both of those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
The Elizabethton Star received a phone call on Tuesday from a concerned resident who knew Morton had been named director of the ARM program and also knew about his criminal conviction. The caller asked that their name be withheld.
After speaking with the caller, the Star obtained copies of court sentencing paperwork for Morton and began trying to contact Morton as well as members of ARM’s Board of Directors.
On Wednesday, calls to the ARM center went unanswered, as did calls to several board members. The Star went to the office for ARM and was told Morton was out of the office and staff was not sure when he would return. A message left for Morton was not returned.
The Star was able to reach ARM board member Jim Wilson on Thursday morning. When questioned about Morton, he replied, “I have no comment. Thank you.”
ARM provides assistance to families suffering financial difficulties through allocations of food and clothing; free or low-cost prescription medication when needed in life-threatening situations; and financial assistance to help pay for necessities such as rent, security deposits, utility bills, utility deposits and utility reconnection fees.
The program operates through donations and grant funding.

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