Trial Begins for Lincoln County Deputy Facing 22 Charges, Including Child Sex Abuse

AUGUSTA — Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Hatch III was a decorated officer by day but at night was a different person, a man who preyed on girls for his own sexual gratification.

That was the contention of Assistant Attorney General John Risler during his opening statements Monday morning for Hatch’s trial in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Hatch is charged with 22 criminal counts that are alleged to have occurred from September 1999 until January 2014 in Lincoln County.

Hatch has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is free on bail. He remains on unpaid administrative leave from the sheriff’s office.

Hatch’s defense attorney Richard Elliott said in his opening statements that the case resulted from a false claim by one young girl who bragged that Hatch was the father of her child. The girl made the boast to show that she had someone inside the sheriff’s office, the defense attorney said.

Elliott said a paternity test proved that the girl’s claim was false and Hatch was not the father of the child. The defense attorney further said Hatch could not be the father because he never had sex with the girl.

The defense attorney repeatedly referred to the prosecution by the state as a “machine” and that it generated 22 charges in hopes that it could get even a few convictions. He said the charges by the state allege time frames so vague that it is impossible for his client to provide alibis.

Elliott said his client does not have to testify but that he will and denies all the accusations made by the state.
He said Hatch is a combat veteran who saw service in Kuwait City and is a veteran law enforcement officer.
Hatch was named its Deputy of the Year in 2015. He had previously been a detective sergeant but was demoted prior to these allegations being made publicly.

Elliott said the three girls listed as victims have a connection. He said one girl’s brother is the boyfriend of another girl listed as a victim. He said the third girl’s boyfriend had been investigated by Hatch for the boyfriend’s possible role in a plot to bomb a police station.

Risler, in his opening statements, detailed what witnesses would say about the sexual assaults by Hatch against the three girls. He said the victims may not be perfect but that this is why he picked these victims.

The earliest of Hatch’s alleged assaults occurred in September 1999.

Risler said Hatch’s darker side would come out soon after starting a relationship with the girls.

The sexual assaults occurred in his cruiser, his home, and once in a cubicle at the sheriff’s office. One victim was 6-years-old when the assaults began, the prosecutor said.

When that girl got older, he would provide her alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana in exchange for sex. Hatch used the marijuana as leverage to get sex, Risler said. One time, Hatch pulled over a motorist and confiscated two ounces of weed and gave that to the girl, according to the prosecutor.

Justice William Stokes is presiding over the trial. The 14 jurors and alternates are evenly divided between men and women.

Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett came into the courtroom briefly before the defense attorney asked for a break and spoke to the sheriff who then left the courtroom. Justice Stokes had earlier said any potential witnesses are not allowed in the courtroom until they have testified or been excused from testifying.

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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