AUGUSTA, Maine — Lincoln County Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III was found not guilty on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and furnishing marijuana to a minor on Monday, but a jury was hung on 20 additional counts.
Hatch, 47, of Whitefield, a former Lincoln County Deputy of the Year, was initially charged with 22 counts of sexually abusing three women when they were younger than 16, one when she was 6. Hatch is also accused of providing marijuana to one of them.
The jury began deliberating midday Friday, and went home just after 5:30 p.m. They arrived back at the Capital Judicial Center at 8:30 a.m. Monday and immediately began deliberating.
They delivered their verdict less than three hours later.
Hatch, through his attorney, Richard Elliott, declined to comment following the verdict, but Elliott said Hatch is “extremely relieved.”
“He’d like to have seen all ‘not guilty,’ but we live to fight another day,” Elliott said. He said he’s not sure why the jury found him not guilty of those two counts in particular, but speculated that the jury had questions about the dates the alleged crimes occurred.
“I’m extremely pleased with the jury,” Elliott said. “Obviously they considered it long and hard. I think any time there’s a hung jury, it means they [did].”
Elliott said he was unsure of Hatch’s status with the sheriff’s office, but said that since Hatch was out on disability when he was charged, that would likely continue.
“I will say, we were a little disappointed in [the] Lincoln County [Sheriff’s Office’s] attitude throughout this whole thing,” he said. “I think they were waiting to see if he was convicted before they made any decisions.
“I think this all started when one of the victims indicated Ken was the father of her child,” he added. “We hoped they would ask for a DNA test, because he knew he wasn’t the father because he never had sex with her. I think it was three friends that basically banded together.”
Hatch’s sister, Teresa Potter, who sat through the entire trial with Hatch’s wife, wept with relief as she left the courtroom.
“It’s been a year and a half of not knowing,” she said. “I’m glad he’s coming home.”
Potter said her three young daughters told her, “Bring my uncle home.”
“I do everything to protect them,” Potter said. “If he was guilty, I wouldn’t let them near him, but he wouldn’t do this.”
Assistant Attorney General John Risler, who prosecuted the case, said he would consult with the three alleged victims and the head of the attorney general’s criminal division to determine whether or not to re-try the remaining counts.
I’m disappointed we weren’t able to secure a verdict, but I’m proud of these young ladies,” he said of the alleged victims, who all testified.
Risler said he’s not sure why the jury found Hatch not guilty on those particular counts, which were among the 17 counts that allegedly involved one of the then-14-year-old victims.
“Just because it happened a long time ago doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” he said. “Those are cases we want to take seriously.”
Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett said Monday afternoon that Hatch would continue on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the case. Brackett said an internal investigation of Hatch is complete, but the “personnel matter” is not.
Another conference in the case is scheduled for Dec. 22.
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