Capital Judicial Center

Hatch takes stand

Defense rests
Posted:  Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 3:30pm

Around 10 a.m. Thursday, Kenneth Hatch took the stand in his own defense. Defense attorney Richard Elliott led Hatch through his education and career, with a particular focus on the vehicles he drove and the types of uniforms he wore the years he worked for the Lincoln County Sheriff’’s Department.

From 2002 to 2012, Hatch was in the detective or CID unit, and was often in plain clothes. However, there were certain work details, even then, when Hatch  wore a uniform.

Late Thursday afternoon, as a rebuttal witness, Chief Deputy Rand Maker said one of the details that would have involved a uniform was wedding security at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. One of Hatch’s accusers said that one time Hatch was doing a wedding detail there, he was in uniform, and the alleged victim described it in detail. According to testimony and evidence, photos she took of flowers and plants went on Instagram that night or the next day. It was one of the times the alleged victim claimed Hatch had sex with her.

Hatch said he often had young teenagers and younger children on “ride alongs” in his car. At some point, he was told by the Sheriff’s Office no one under 16 could do a ride along with him; until then he said he offered at least 20 children and teenagers rides in his cruiser, often in the evening shifts when he typically worked. Many work incidents one of the alleged victims described were determined factual and dates were assigned, although the alleged victims may not have remembered the season or other details clearly.

Hatch created a picture of an extended household including children of other families who gravitated to him and his wife due to problems in their families. “They did not have a positive  role model in their lives,” he said. “I tried to help them.” Over the years, Hatch said, he purchased things for them, including formal gowns, a car, hunting rifles, fishing gear, and a car for one teenager who had been helpful around the house. Before she got her license, however, her father totaled the car, and the Hatches did not replace it.

Hatch claimed that this special relationship with one of his accusers changed when she had a child and expected the Hatches to help her raise her daughter. “She wasn’t happy about that because we told her we wouldn’t raise her daughter for her,” Hatch said on the stand. The alleged victim also at one point had a restraining order against the boy thought to be the baby’s father – a subsequent DNA test proved he was not – and Hatch was assigned the role of supervisor of visits between the father and his family and the baby. At some point, Hatch decided to stop serving in that role, and according to him, the alleged victim was upset about that, as well.

Another alleged victim was tied to the first accuser because she was the girlfriend of the accuser’s brother, the defense said. The alleged victims denied they had a good relationship with one another.

Hatch said his relationship with a third accuser changed when he interviewed her about a bomb threat her boyfriend had been involved with, to blow up the Hartford (Connecticut) Police Department in 2016. A Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officer who, according to evidence and testimony, was present at the interview, said he did not recall it; however, both Hatch and the other officer received copies of a commendation for their actions to bring the group threatening to bomb the police department to justice. Hatch said that since the interview, he had not spoken with the alleged victim.

Elliott brought up an affliction to Hatch’s penis that none of the alleged victims described. Hatch acknowledged that he did not inform the state or anyone investigating the alleged sexual assaults about it, and only took photographs of it on Nov. 15 to be entered into evidence.

Hatch categorically denied sexually touching or having sex with the alleged victims, giving the teenagers marijuana or other drugs, or buying alcohol or cigarettes for them, all of which the three girls alleged.

On cross-examination, Hatch acknowledged that he knew that one of the alleged victims smoked marijuana on his property, and also that she smoked cigarettes, but denied giving her the drugs or cigarettes. He also acknowledged asking her to make him drinks when she was 14 or 15 years old.

Regarding the incident at the home of one of the accusers, when, according to a state’s witness, the alleged victim’s parents and brother came home to find her unclothed in her parents’ room and Hatch in the bathroom only accessible from the two bedrooms, Hatch said the girl’s baby was present at the time, which would have made her 16 then. Her mother and brother deny that the baby was present or that the girl was pregnant. In the girl’s previous testimony, she said she had to hold her dog’s mouth closed during sexual relations or he would have snarled and barked and woken up her younger brother, who was asleep on the sofa. She said she had invited Hatch over after midnight because her parents were not present and she “owed” him sex for marijuana.

Hatch said he had gone to the Somerville residence on patrol at that hour because he needed to use the restroom.

Assistant D.A. John Risler said, “So you went to the house, even though there was a loud, yappy dog and a 3-month-old baby after midnight to go to the toilet?”

Hatch said that was true.

In the earlier testimony, the mother of the alleged victim said he had never been there at that time of night before.

After identifying how far away the Somerville residence was from most of Hatch’s patrol duties, the state’s cross-examination ended.

Then the defense rested.

The state called only one rebuttal witness, Maker, to address the issue of uniforms during wedding details, and then rested finally.

Justice William Stokes said closing arguments and jury instructions will be Friday, and the case will go to the jury Friday.