Trial of former 'Deputy of the Year' accused of sexually abusing girls begins
AUGUSTA (WGME) -- The sex abuse trial of a Lincoln County Sheriff's deputy is underway in Augusta.
Kenneth Hatch is accused of sexually abusing minors.
Hatch is a 17-year veteran of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department and a former “Deputy of the Year.”
Hatch pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of unlawful sexual contact, and eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana.
According to court documents, Hatch's victims were three girls, and one of them was given marijuana and alcohol in exchange for sex.
The girls ages ranged from 14 to 18.
The jury heard opening statements Monday from both sides and the testimonies of the three girls who say Hatch abused them sexually.
CBS 13 is not naming them since they were minors at the time, but prosecutors say the women are still scared.
"She'll then tell you about how she got out, put her clothes on, and threw up in her mouth after that happened. She'll tell you that wasn't the last time, that it happened about 10 different times," Assistant Attorney General John Risler said.
The alleged crimes occurred between 1999 and 2014, and prosecutors say some of the incidents happened in the back of Hatch's patrol cruiser.
The defense says that Hatch is not guilty and the jury should keep an open mind until they can provide their own witnesses and testimonies.
"You will, when the facts are given to you, cannot, because of the credibility of the witnesses, cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Hatch did this. You may in fact leave this court room knowing that Mr. Hatch did not do this,” Richard Elliot, defense attorney, said.
Officials say they expect the trial to last seven days.