By Stephen Betts, Bangor Daily News
A veteran Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy indicted three weeks ago on 22 charges related to alleged drug offenses and sexual assaults against three girls was previously reprimanded twice and demoted three years ago.
Kenneth L. Hatch III, 46, of Whitefield, was demoted in May 2013 from detective sergeant to patrol deputy, according to an “employment reassignment agreement” recently obtained by the Bangor Daily News.
The document requested under the Freedom of Access Act makes reference to an investigation into a matter that the Maine Attorney General’s Office declined to prosecute. The single-page document does not specify what was investigated, but states, “In the event of any future similar charge or incident, the department may use this matter in a future disciplinary proceeding, although this matter shall not be, by itself, the subject of discipline.”
Sheriff Todd Brackett said Aug. 31 that he could not comment beyond what was stated in the reassignment agreement.
Before the demotion, Hatch also had received two written reprimands, one in 2010 and another in 2012.
Brackett reprimanded Hatch in June 2012 for a “serious breach of security and disregard of an order,” according to copies of the written reprimands also obtained by the BDN.
That action followed an investigation by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office on Brackett’s behalf into the disappearance of an undisclosed amount of oxycodone pills that had been stored in the evidence room of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for two pending drug-trafficking cases, according to the document.
The investigation determined that oxycodone stored in the evidence room had disappeared in late 2011, causing the two criminal cases to be dismissed. Details about those two cases were not included in the documents released.
Brackett concluded in his reprimand of Hatch that the then-detective sergeant had disregarded an order given in the spring of 2011 to keep the evidence room key on his person. Instead, the sheriff said that Hatch had left the key in an unlocked drawer in his desk.
“The evidence shows that you failed to provide a secure environment for storage of evidence seized by our law enforcement agency,” the reprimand stated.
Hatch also was given a written reprimand by Lt. Michael Murphy in February 2010 for conducting a criminal and motor vehicle violation background check through the state criminal computer system on his brother-in-law to provide him a copy so that he could apply for a taxi license in Augusta. The then-detective sergeant had documented the search as being done as part of a criminal investigation.
“I want to stress to you that I find this incident very serious in nature,” Murphy said in his reprimand.
The lieutenant said Hatch’s action and his initially denying that he was running the records request for his brother-in-law violated several policies, including providing false information in department records.
Brackett said Aug. 31 that the department would have no further comment on the reprimands or related investigations because of state confidentiality laws regarding personnel issues.
Hatch’s attorney, Richard Elliott, of Boothbay Harbor, said Aug. 31 that he would speak to his client about the disciplinary actions but that Hatch was unavailable for comment this week.
Hatch has pleaded not guilty to the 22 criminal charges lodged against him in early August. Hatch was indicted on 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of unlawful sexual contact, and eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana. The drug counts allege that he gave marijuana to two of his three alleged victims.
The incidents for which Hatch was indicted date back as far as September 1999 with one girl who was younger than 14 years old at the time of the oldest alleged sexual assault.
The offenses against another girl, who was 14 or 15 years old, occurred in 2001 and 2002, according to the indictments.
And the sexual abuse of the third victim, which resulted in Hatch’s arrest in June, first occurred in 2004 when she was 6, according to Assistant Attorney General John Risler, who presented the case to the grand jury. The indictments then allege that Hatch sexually abused the same girl and provided her marijuana in 2013 and 2014, when she was 14 and 15.
In an affidavit filed in June in the Lincoln County Courthouse, Detective Peter Lizanecz, of the Maine Attorney General’s Office, wrote that the teenager told Augusta police in May that when she was 14, Hatch offered her marijuana in exchange for sex in the back seat of his cruiser.
She also alleged that Hatch gave her cigarettes, alcohol, money, and more marijuana during other sexual abuse in the cruiser during the next two to three years.
Hatch was placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest in June, but his status was changed to unpaid leave after the grand jury indictments and pending further investigation.
Hatch joined the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in 1999.
Hatch is next scheduled to appear in the Knox County court on Oct. 27.