AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - A sheriff’s deputy is on trial facing 22 sex abuse charges.

The allegations, if true, are disturbing given Kenneth Hatch’s role in the community. He has been in law enforcement for 17-years, once being recognized as deputy of the year.

“The subject matter of this case is going to be uncomfortable for most of us to talk about”, Prosecutor John Risler told jurors.

The case involves three women who say they were sexually abused by Lincoln County Deputy Kenneth Hatch when they were children and teenagers. Risler told jurors one alleged victim believes she was just 8 when the abuse began.

“What the evidence in this case will show is the defendant was a decorated deputy by day and a different person after dark”, he said.

Rilser told jurors they will hear about sexual encounters Hatch had with the alleged victims in his sheriff’s cruiser and how he plied one of them with marijuana that he seized on the job.

“He used her use of marijuana to make a very simple proposition. Sex in exchange for weed”, he said.

Hatch’s attorney told jurors many of the dates of the alleged abuse are so vague, it prevents his client from producing an alibi. He said with the firm dates the state can produce, he will show that the abuse could not have happened.

“On every one of the dates the state says something occurred, we are going to be able to give your information that, oh no it didn’t”, said Richard Elliott.

Elliot told jurors it’s the state burden to show the abuse did happen beyond a reasonable doubt. He said Kenneth Hatch does not have to take the stand to defend himself. But he hinted he would.

“Ken Hatch is going to tell you he did not do this. This is not a crime he had committed. He is always going to take the position, not on legalities that it didn’t happen because of this. He’s telling you it did not happen”, Elliott said.

Hatch was placed on administrative leave from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department pending the results of an internal investigation and the outcome of this trial.