AUGUSTA — A Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy facing 22 charges involving sex abuse of three girls and supplying marijuana to one of them on eight occasions is scheduled to go to trial here in November.

Kenneth L. Hatch III, of Whitefield, who turns 47 Wednesday, was in a courtroom briefly Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center to hear Justice William Stokes indicate the anticipated trial date.

Hatch also signed a waiver of indictment in open court that essentially allowed the state to make some changes to the dates of offense listed on the earlier indictment.

“We just made it a date range rather than going through and amending the indictment,” the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General John Risler said afterward. “There are no new charges.”

Hatch’s attorney, Richard Elliott, said his client was “prepared to move forward” with the indictment waiver.

Hatch, who was deputy of the year in 2015 and worked in law enforcement for 17 years, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He remains free on bail with conditions that prohibit him from contact with minor children except under special, pre-approved circumstances with authorized supervisors.

According to information in court documents, some of the alleged sexual abuse occurred on ride-alongs in Hatch’s cruiser.

Seventeen of the charges list the name of one girl as victim, three additional counts of sexual abuse of a minor involve a second victim, and a third victim is identified in connection with two charges of unlawful sexual contact.

While Hatch initially was indicted in Knox County in August 2016, and all 22 offenses are alleged to have occurred in the period of September 1999 to January 2014 in Lincoln County, Stokes previously ordered the case transferred to Kennebec County in October 2016. Hatch objected to the change of venue.

Tuesday’s proceedings in open court followed a confidential, in-chambers conference with the prosecutor; Hatch’s attorney, Richard Elliott; and Stokes.

Stokes ordered a court reporter to prepare a transcript of the Knox County grand jury proceedings but said he had not decided yet whether it would be given to the defense as requested.

Jury selection in the case is scheduled for Nov. 7-8.

The attorneys indicated the trial would take a week or so.

“I’m looking to try to get this done in November,” Stokes said.

It was unclear Tuesday whether Hatch remains on unpaid administrative leave from Lincoln County. Both the county administrator and the sheriff are out of the office for several days. However, the prosecutor said he was unaware of any change in Hatch’s status with the county.

At one point, a July 2017 trial had been anticipated.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: