Deputy Kenneth l. Hatch III has been fired following a lengthy internal investigation, the Lincoln County Sheriff announced Tuesday.

Sheriff Todd Brackett announced the firing in a news release.

The action followed an administrative hearing held Jan. 3 with Hatch and his labor attorney.

“I have made the decision to end his employment and communicated that to him in a letter that is a confidential personnel document that cannot be released. Mr. Hatch has the opportunity to appeal my decision if he chooses to” Brackett said in the release.

The termination letter will be a public document after the appeal period has expired unless the firing is overturned.

“This has been a trying time for all of us here at the Sheriff’s Office and a black mark on law enforcement across our State. While it is an unfortunate end to a long and decorated career in law enforcement, it is time to put this behind us and move on. Regardless of the unresolved criminal charges, I simply do not see how, given the circumstances, he could continue to function as a law enforcement officer," the sheriff said.

Hatch, a Whitefield resident, was 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 on Nov. 20 found Hatch not guilty on one count of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of aggravated furnishing of marijuana. But the jury deadlocked on the other 20 charges.

The Attorney General's Office has not announced whether it plans to retry Hatch on the remaining charges.

Hatch has been on unpaid leave from the Sheriff’s Office since he was charged in June 2016.