A Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 22 counts alleging that he sexually abused three minor girls and supplied one with marijuana in exchange for sex.

Most of the allegations revolve around an ongoing relationship, primarily in 2013 and 2014, between the deputy, Kenneth L. Hatch III of Whitefield, with one girl. An investigation into that relationship uncovered allegations of sexual abuse by Hatch involving two other girls in 2001 to 2003, said John Risler, the Maine assistant attorney general who is prosecuting the case.

Hatch, who was arraigned in Rockland, will remain free on $50,000 bail until his next court date Oct. 27. Superior Court Justice William Stokes stipulated that Hatch have no contact with minor girls while he is released, with the exception of this Saturday, when two nieces will be at a family get-together for Hatch’s son, who is returning from a stint with the U.S. Air Force, Risler said.

Risler said the judge stipulated that the girls’ parents must be in the same room with Hatch and the girls if they are together and that there be no physical contact between Hatch and the girls. Any further contact between Hatch and minor girls beyond Saturday will require court approval, said Risler, who had objected to any contact between Hatch and his nieces.

According to an affidavit filed with the court by an investigator for the Attorney General’s Office, the abuse of one girl allegedly started when she was 6 and Hatch babysat her and the girl’s brother. Years later, the girl went on ride-alongs with Hatch when he was on patrol, the girl told the investigator, and Hatch repeatedly asked for sex. She said no, according to the affidavit, but eventually agreed when Hatch offered her marijuana, and the two allegedly had sex in the back of Hatch’s cruiser.

According to the affidavit, the marijuana that Hatch gave the girl was in a police evidence bag. He allegedly supplied the girl with drugs eight times, and each date in the indictment coincides with the date of an alleged act of sexual abuse.

Hatch, 46, has been a sheriff’s deputy for 17 years and was named deputy of the year in 2015.

He was placed on paid administrative leave after being indicted this month, and was later put on indefinite leave without pay. Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett said another law enforcement agency will conduct an investigation to determine if Hatch violated department policies.

The case was investigated by and is being prosecuted by the Maine Attorney General’s Office to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest between the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, which works closely with deputies when criminal cases are being investigated, and the sheriff’s office. Hatch was indicted by the Knox County grand jury.

Calls to Hatch’s attorney, Richard Elliott, were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]