AUGUSTA — Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III took the witness stand Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court to deny he sexually assaulted three girls and provided them marijuana and alcohol.

But Hatch also said he did take the girls on rides in his cruiser while on patrols, and that one girl may have ridden with him more than 100 times.

The state rested its case Wednesday after the three women testified during parts of the first three days of the trial.

Hatch, 47, responded to questions by his attorney, Richard Elliott, to rebut the general allegations and specific details of what the alleged victims said occurred.

Hatch remains on unpaid leave from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. He faces 22 criminal charges involving the three girls. He was indicted in August 2016 after having been arrested earlier in the year.

The department had named him deputy of the year in 2015. He previously held the rank of detective sergeant but was demoted in 2013 for unspecified reasons. The Maine Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation but decided not to prosecute.

One girl said she was 6 years old when Hatch first assaulted her.

The sexual assaults occurred in his cruiser, his home, and once in a cubicle at the sheriff’s office, according to the alleged victims.

Hatch testified Thursday there were often a lot of young people at his home in Whitefield. He said he was the youngest of 10 children and there would be many family members on what was the family homestead.

The deputy said he and his wife would allow young people to spend time at their home. He said he would take them hunting and fishing. Hatch said he did this because those young people did not have positive home lives and he wanted to help.

Hatch said that one of the girls who has accused him of sexually assaulting her had become unhappy when he told her that he and his wife would not do more to help raise her baby. She also became upset, he said, when he stopped overseeing supervised visits between the baby and the child’s father.

The defense also tried to discredit Hatch’s accusers by asking the deputy to testify about a medical condition that he said affects the shape of his penis. Hatch testified that he took a photo of his genitals that will be shown to the jury as evidence.

The offenses allegedly occurred from September 1999 to January 2014.

One of the alleged victims had testified that Hatch alone had questioned her about her boyfriend who was suspected of being in a gang that threatened to blow up the Hartford, Connecticut, police department. Hatch said that he and another detective had interviewed the teenager at her home.

Under cross examination, Hatch acknowledged that the detective does not recall that interview.

Elliott showed a commendation that Hatch received for his role in the investigation into that case.

Justice William Stokes is presiding over the trial. There are eight women and seven men in the jury, which includes three alternates who will be excused before deliberations begin.

The trial could conclude Friday.

filed under: