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.
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