Trial Begins for Former 'Deputy of the Year' Accused of Sexually Abusing Girls

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AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) The trial of a Lincoln County sheriff's deputy accused of sexually abusing three girls got underway in Augusta on Monday.

Kenneth Hatch III was named Lincoln County 'Deputy of the Year' in 2016.

He's now facing 22 charges, half of which are for sexual abuse of minors.

"Ken Hatch did not do this. Ken Hatch is going to tell you he did not do this. This is not a crime that he's committed. He is always going to take the position not on legalities that it didn't happen because of 'this.' He's telling you it did not happen," said Richard Elliott, Hatch's defense attorney.

47-year-old Kenneth Hatch III has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, 3 counts of unlawful sexual contact, and eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana. Hatch, of Whitefield, joined the Lincoln County Sheriif's Office in 1999.

The state argues he lived two lives- a decorated deputy by day and a different person at night.

John Risler, the Assistant Attorney General says Hatch did not threaten the girls or force them into sex, but that element of consent does not apply under the law if the person is 10 years older than the victim.

"You are not allowed as a 25-year-old to have sex with a 14-year-old. But that's what this defendant did in the back of his police car and then again a short time later in his bedroom while his kids were at soccer practice," said Risler.

The state claims one victim had multiple sexual encounters with Hatch while she was a freshman in high school.

The alleged sexual assaults of the third victim, which led to Hatch's arrest in June, began when she was six years old. The state says Hatch later offered marijuana to that victim when she was 14 or 15 in exchange for sex.

"Sex in exchange for weed. She'll tell you that he pulled someone over and got a pretty decent amount. She said it was about two ounces and that he told her 'it's all yours. All we have to do is have sex.," said Risler.

Hatch's attorney says the combat veteran and decorated deputy denies all allegations.

He went on to say in court the alleged victims have a connection to each other and that past encounters with Hatch give them motives to fabricate stories.

"So every one of them has got a reason to be up there testifying to facts that aren't exact. Wasn't mentioned to you by the state, now was it?" asked Elliott.

The trial was moved out of Lincoln County to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Hatch is free on bail and has been placed on administrative leave.

The trial continues Tuesday.