WISCASSET — A grievance has been filed on behalf of former Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Hatch III over his firing this month following a sexual abuse trial last fall at which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on most of the charges.

The grievance was filed Jan. 23 with Sheriff Todd Brackett by the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the deputies in Lincoln County.

But Mike Edes, a labor specialist for the police association, said late Tuesday that he expects the grievance will be withdrawn in light of Hatch’s court plea last week.

As part of a plea deal, Hatch was convicted Friday on a single charge of providing a place for minors to consume alcohol, a Class D offense, for which the Whitefield man got no jail time. In exchange for avoiding a new trial on the more serious charges, Hatch pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor count and was fined $1,000. A no contest plea results in a conviction but does not require the defendant to admit guilt.

Hatch was fired by the sheriff on Jan. 9 following a lengthy internal investigation. Hatch had been on unpaid leave from the sheriff’s office since he was charged in June 2016.

Hatch was originally charged with 22 felonies – 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of unlawful sexual contact, and eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana. He was accused of sexually assaulting three girls and providing them marijuana and alcohol in exchange for sex.

A jury in Kennebec County found Hatch not guilty Nov. 20 on one count of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of aggravated furnishing of marijuana, but it deadlocked on the other 20 charges.

At the trial, the prosecution said Hatch was a decorated officer by day, but at night was a different person, a man who preyed on girls for his own sexual gratification. Testimony during the trial stated that the sexual assaults occurred in his cruiser, his home, and once in a cubicle at the sheriff’s office. One victim was 6 years old when the assaults began, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Richard Elliott had said during his statements to the jury in November that all three accusers knew each other and had an ax to grind against the deputy.

The three women who were victims in the cases had opposed the plea deal negotiated by the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Janet Mills issued a statement Friday pointing out that the conviction on the liquor charge would prevent Hatch from working in law enforcement.

Sheriff Brackett said Monday he does not know what impact the plea on Jan. 26 will have on the grievance.

Edes said Tuesday that the police association files appeals on behalf of its members simply to meet deadlines so as not to forfeit any rights under the contract. He said, however, he expects this grievance will be withdrawn.

The contract between deputies and Lincoln County requires the sheriff to respond to the grievance. The employee can appeal his decision to the county commissioners and then the Maine Board of Arbitration and Conciliation if not satisfied with the earlier rulings.

Hatch was demoted in May 2013 from sergeant detective to patrol officer, according to an “employment reassignment agreement.”

The document made 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.”

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.

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 department 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 sergeant detective 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.

The lieutenant stated that 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.

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