Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III has been placed on indefinite leave without pay following his recent indictment on charges of sexual abuse.
Hatch, 46, of Whitefield, had been on administrative leave since June 16, five days before his arrest. He was placed on indefinite leave without pay immediately after a Knox County grand jury indicted him Aug. 9, according to a press release from Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett.
“The fact of the indictment, regardless of the ultimate determination of guilt or innocence, means that Mr. Hatch cannot work as a deputy sheriff,” Brackett said in the press release. “As to the substance, the allegations are plainly very serious and I am treating them that way.
“As soon as the (Maine Attorney General’s) Office has finished its investigation, which I understand is still ongoing, I will launch my own inquiry by engaging an outside law enforcement agency to investigate the matter independently on behalf of the sheriff’s office.”
The internal investigation will “determine what sheriff’s office policy violations may have been committed,” according to the press release.
“Public trust is crucial to our success as a public-safety provider and I want to make sure this matter is handled as transparently as possible,” Brackett said.
Hatch faces 11 counts of class C sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of class C unlawful sexual contact, and eight counts of class C aggravated furnishing of schedule Z drugs, according to the sheriff’s office. All 22 counts are felonies.
The indictment names three girls as the victims of the alleged sexual abuse, ranging in age from 6 to 15 at the time of the incidents, from 1999 – when Hatch joined the sheriff’s office – to 2014, according to the Bangor Daily News. He allegedly provided marijuana to two of the girls, resulting in the drug charges.
“It will take some time for this matter to be resolved by the court,” Brackett said. “However, I want to be very clear that should the internal investigation provide information that substantiates criminal conduct or serious violations of department policies, or if a conviction is handed down, I will deal with the matter swiftly and appropriately. These allegations, if true, fly in the face of everything myself, my staff, and the sheriff’s office stand for.”
Hatch is free on $50,000 unsecured bail. His bail conditions prohibit contact with any girl under 16; prohibit contact with the alleged victim; prohibit the possession of dangerous weapons, including firearms; prohibit the possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs; and subject Hatch to random searches and tests to ensure compliance.
Hatch was a patrol deputy and shellfish warden at the time of his arrest, but was formerly a detective sergeant responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the detectives who investigate the most serious crimes under the agency’s jurisdiction, including sex crimes.