Lincoln County Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III took the witness stand Thursday morning, Nov. 16, in Kennebec County Superior Court to deny that he sexually assaulted three girls and provided them with marijuana and alcohol.

The state had rested its case Wednesday afternoon, after the three women testified during parts of the first three days of the trial.

Hatch, 47, responded to questions posed by his attorney, Richard Elliott, to rebut both the general allegations and also specific details of what the alleged victims had said occurred.

Hatch remains on unpaid leave from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. He is charged with 22 criminal counts involving the three girls. He was indicted in August 2016 after having been arrested earlier in the year.

The county department had named him Deputy of the Year in 2015. He had previously been a detective sergeant with the Lincoln County agency, but was demoted in 2013 for reasons not specified, other than that an investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office had occurred, which resulted in a decision not to prosecute.

One girl said she was 6 years old when Hatch first assaulted her.

The sexual assaults occurred in his cruiser, his home and once in a cubicle at the Sheriff’s Office, according to the alleged victims.

Hatch testified Thursday there were often a lot of young people at his home in Whitefield. He said he was the youngest of 10 children and there would be many family members on the family homestead.

The deputy also said he and his wife would allow young people to spend time at their home. He said he also would take them hunting and fishing. Hatch said he did this because those young people did not have positive home lives and he wanted to help.

Hatch said that one of the girls who has accused him of sexually assaulting her had become unhappy when he told her he and his wife would not do more to help raise her baby. She also became upset, he said, when he stopped overseeing supervised visits between the baby and the child’s father.

Hatch acknowledged that he had taken each of the alleged victims on rides in his cruiser while on patrol. He said he may have taken one of the girls on rides while on patrol more than 100 times.

The defense also attempted to discredit Hatch’s accusers by asking the deputy to testify about a medical condition that he said affects the shape of his penis, and pointing out that the alleged victims said they noticed nothing unusual. Hatch testified that he took a photo of his genitals Nov. 15 that will be shown to the jury as evidence.

The offenses allegedly occurred from September 1999 to January 2014.

One of the alleged victims had testified that Hatch alone had questioned her about her boyfriend, who was suspected of being in a gang that threatened to blow up the Hartford, Conn., police department. Hatch said that he and another detective had interviewed the teen at her home.

Under cross-examination, Hatch acknowledged that the detective does not recall that interview.

Elliott showed a commendation that Hatch received for his role in the investigation into that case.

Justice William Stokes is presiding over the trial. There are eight women and seven men on the jury, which includes three alternates who will be excused before deliberations begin.

The trial could conclude Friday.