The Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy charged with sexually abusing three girls and supplying marijuana to one of them has been fired.

Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch had been on unpaid leave from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office since he was charged in June 2016.

“Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III’s employment with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was terminated yesterday following the outcome of a lengthy internal investigation,” Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett said in a news release Tuesday evening.

Hatch, 47, of Whitefield, went to trial on 22 felony charges in November at the Capital Judicial Center in Kennebec County.

A jury found him not guilty on one count of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of aggravated furnishing of marijuana and deadlocked on the remaining 20 counts.

Hatch had pleaded not guilty to all the charges and testified in his own defense. He remains free on bail.

Brackett said the decision to terminate Hatch’s employment came after a Jan. 3 administrative hearing with Hatch and his labor attorney.

“Mr. Hatch has the opportunity to appeal my decision if he chooses to,” Brackett said in the release. “This has been a trying time for all of us here at the sheriff’s office and a black mark on law enforcement across our state. While it is an unfortunate end to a long and decorated career in law enforcement, it is time to put this behind us and move on. Regardless of the unresolved criminal charges, I simply do not see how, given the circumstances, he could continue to function as a law enforcement officer.”

Richard Elliott, Hatch’s attorney, said immediately after the trial that the state Attorney General’s Office would decide whether to re-try Hatch.

“There’s no indication at this time whether they will do that or not,” Elliott said.

Hatch was named deputy of the year in 2015. He previously had been a detective sergeant with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, but was demoted in 2013 for unspecified reasons. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office resulted in a decision not to prosecute.

The indictment said the recent offenses occurred from September 1999 to January 2014 in Lincoln County, and that some took place in Hatch’s cruiser. Seventeen of the charges listed the name of one girl as a victim, three additional counts involved a second victim, and a third victim was identified in connection with two charges of unlawful sexual contact.

At trial, Elliott said the three girls were connected. 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 his possible role in a plot to bomb a police station.

Elliott’s office phone was not answered Tuesday evening.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

[email protected]

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