A Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy accused of sexually abusing three girls has been placed on indefinite leave without pay.

Sheriff Todd Brackett announced the action involving Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III of Whitefield in a news release Monday.

Hatch, 46, had been placed on paid administrative leave on June 16. Brackett’s decision not to pay him came after the Knox County grand jury on Aug. 9 indicted Hatch on 11 counts of sexual abuse of minors, eight counts of furnishing Schedule Z drugs (marijuana), and three counts of unlawful sexual contact. The indictments were handed up following an investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

“The fact of the indictment, regardless of the ultimate determination of guilt or innocence, means that Mr. Hatch cannot work as a deputy sheriff. As to the substance, the allegations are plainly very serious and I am treating them that way,” Brackett said in statement.

Brackett said he will launch his own inquiry into the matter – with the help of an outside police agency – as soon as the attorney general’s office completes its investigation.

“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. “These allegations, if true, fly in the face of everything myself, my staff and the Sheriff’s Office stands for.”

The alleged sexual abuse took place between 2000 and 2014 and involved three minor girls. Hatch is accused of furnishing marijuana to one of his victims.

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