ROCKLAND, Maine — A veteran Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputy was indicted Tuesday on 22 counts related to alleged sexual assaults against three girls during the past 17 years.
Kenneth L. Hatch III, 46, of Whitefield was first arrested in June when he was charged with two counts of sexual abuse allegedly against one girl.
On Tuesday, however, the Knox County grand jury indicted Hatch on 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of unlawful sexual contact and eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana in connection with alleged incidents against three victims. The drug counts allege that he provided marijuana to two of the alleged victims.
Hatch joined the sheriff’s office in 1999 and was named its Deputy of the Year in April. Sheriff Todd Brackett placed Hatch on paid administrative leave when the officer was arrested in June pending further investigation. A telephone message left early Tuesday afternoon seeking comment from the sheriff was not immediately returned.
The cases were presented to the Knox County grand jury by the state attorney general’s office to avoid any appearance of a conflict because Hatch works extensively with the district attorney’s office.
The incidents for which Hatch was indicted date back as far as September 1999 with one girl who was younger than 14 years old at the time of the oldest alleged sexual assault.
The offenses against another girl, who was 14 or 15 years old, occurred in 2001 and 2002, according to the indictments.
And the sexual assaults against the third victim, which resulted in Hatch’s arrest in June, first occurred in 2004 when she was 6, according to Assistant Attorney General John Risler, who presented the case to the grand jury. The indictments then allege that Hatch sexually assaulted the same girl and provided her marijuana in 2013 and 2014, when she was 14 and 15.
In an affidavit filed in June in Wiscasset Unified Criminal Court, Detective Peter Lizanecz of the Maine attorney general’s office wrote that the teen told Augusta police in May that when she was 14 years old, Hatch offered her marijuana in exchange for sex in the back seat of his cruiser.
She also alleged that Hatch gave her cigarettes, alcohol, money and more marijuana during other sexual assaults in the cruiser during the next two to three years.
The teen allegedly told an officer that on Sept. 21, 2013, Hatch gave her marijuana from a plastic bag marked “EVIDENCE” that matched evidence bags that Brackett confirmed were used by the sheriff’s office.
Hatch was released from jail in June on $50,000 unsecured bail. The conditions of release stipulate that he have no contact with the alleged victim or with girls younger than 16 years old. He also is prohibited from using or possessing alcohol, drugs or dangerous weapons.