SC church volunteer pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching child in 2007

SC church volunteer pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching child in 2007

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — A South Carolina church volunteer accused of molesting children at churches in the Charlotte area and South Carolina pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching a child in 2007.

Jacop Hazlett was 17 years old at the time and the victim was under 13.

Officials said the case happened in Ohio.

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Hazlett was prosecuted as a minor and received 21 days in jail.

Hazlett is also under investigation by Davidson police, who say he sexually assaulted a 7-year-old Davidson Elementary School student. The incident did not happen on school grounds, police said.

Davidson police said they received a report involving an allegation against Hazlett shortly after allegations surfaced in South Carolina.

The alleged assaults happened over a four-month period last summer and fall, police said.

Officials did not say where they may have happened, but they stressed it is only an allegation at this point.

(Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett)

Hazlett is also facing eight additional charges in North Charleston.

Hazlett is now charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and seven counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to court records.

The records did not give details on the new charges.

He will face a judge on several of these charges in Charleston Wednesday.

Hazlett, 28, supervised the care of 3- to 5-year-olds at the North Charleston NewSpring Church starting in March, according to a lawsuit against the church filed by the parents of a 3-year-old boy who was also allegedly assaulted by Hazlett.

NewSpring Church officials last month reviewed video of the room where Hazlett volunteered and found he had sexually assaulted at least 14 children inside a bathroom, the lawsuit said.

The camera is outside the bathroom, which has a split door. Volunteers close the bottom half when a child is in the restroom, according to the lawsuit.

“That kind of offender does not stop,” attorney Nathaniel Foote said. “This is somebody who could not stop himself."

Hazlett passed a background check and NewSpring is cooperating with investigators, the church said in a statement.

"NewSpring is steadfastly committed to safety and security, and because of this commitment, we have an extensive screening process for all adults before they are allowed to volunteer with children, birth through 12th grade," said the statement from the church, which added the cameras in each room where children are kept is an added security measure.

Hazlett remains in jail. Court records didn't indicate if he had an attorney.

Channel 9 found out that from 2014 to January 2018, Hazlett volunteered at Elevation Church in Lake Norman.

Elevation said a background check on Hazlett showed no red flags and they didn't have an incident with him.

Elevation Church issued this statement: "We are saddened by the recent reports about Mr. Hazlett and our heart goes out to the families involved. He was a volunteer at Our Lake Norman location. He served in our clubhouse area in late 2014. Clubhouse is a big open room with no private restrooms where our volunteer's children go while their parents serve on Sundays. Our policy has always been that all kids are escorted to restrooms by at least 2 adult female volunteers. He was moved to an administrative volunteer role with no direct contact or oversight of kids in early 2015. He volunteered in our check in area and then in our church production area until Jan 2018 when he moved to Charleston. There were no incidents or events at the campus that led to him being moved in 2015 however the campus leadership did have an uneasy feeling with how he interacted with supervised kids prompting a discussion with him and we made the decision to move him. He was also put through our standard background check which came back with no red flags."

In Davidson, a 7-year-old described being assaulted by Hazlett last fall. That case is still being investigated.

It's the only documented local case, but Foote is concerned there are more.

“If you think something happened, talk to appropriate professionals,” Foote said.

Hazlett attended and served at the Cove Church in Mooresville from 2010 to 2014.

The church released this statement:

“We are saddened and heartbroken hearing this news. Please join us in praying for the children involved and their families, as well for God's peace to cover this entire situation.”

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