Maine sheriff's deputy denies sex abuse charges

Courtesy: MGN Online
Courtesy: MGN Online

LINCOLN, Maine (AP) - A Maine sheriff's deputy has denied charges that he sexually abused three girls and supplied one with marijuana in exchange for sex on numerous occasions.

Kenneth Hatch III pleaded not guilty to 22 counts in connection with the alleged abuse on Tuesday in Rockland Superior Court.

Prosecutors say Hatch carried on an ongoing relationship with a minor girl primarily in 2013 and 2014. An investigation into that relationship reportedly revealed that Hatch abused two other young girls from 2001 to 2003.

Court documents say the abuse of one girl started when she was 6 years old and Hatch was her baby sitter.

Hatch has been a Lincoln County Sheriff's Office deputy for 17 years, winning deputy of the year honors in 2015. He's been placed on indefinite leave without pay.