Jacop Hazlett is a 28-year-old preschool volunteer for NewSpring Church in North Charleston who has been accused of fourteen incidents of sexual assault.
Hazlett was arrested after surveillance cameras allegedly found him molesting a 3-year-old boy, according to ABC. Hazlett was convicted by a jury of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor in 2019, WCSC reports. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison. Hazlett also pleaded guilty to another 13 charges and was sentenced to an additional 40 years.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Incident With the Three-Year-Old Boy Occurred in 2018, Police Say
The alleged incident that led to Hazlett’s arrest occurred in November 2018 when Hazlett is accused of taking a three-year-old boy to the bathroom. Police say that Hazlett subsequently performed oral sex on the toddler in the classroom bathroom, and that the act was recorded by surveillance cameras.
At that point, NewSpring went back through its surveillance footage and allegedly found fourteen separate incidents of sexual assault by Hazlett on little boys.
The family of the boy sued Hazlett. The lawsuit states that “the video footage of Jacop Hazlett’s abuse of other boys is substantially similar.” In an emailed statement, Joshua Slavin, the attorney representing the young boy’s family, argued that the purpose of the lawsuit was to “expose the blatant oversight” of NewSpring Church.
Slavin wrote, “What makes this case so tragic is that the abuse was entirely preventable — these crimes were repeatedly committed in front of security cameras that were monitored by NewSpring Church.”
2. Hazlett Is Accused of Abusing at Least 14 Children During His Time as a Church Volunteer
Hazlett is accused of 14 separate incidents of sexual assault with three and four-year-old boys. These incidents all occurred in the last 90 days, because surveillance footage at the church is only stored for 90 days.
In at least one instance, Hazlett took inappropriate photos of a little boy before assaulting him, police accuse. Police have not clarified the specific nature of many of the alleged assaults, as of yet. There are no reports of Hazlett assaulting any little girls.
3. Hazlett Was Held Without Bond After His Arrest
Hazlett has been in custody since his November 2018 arrest on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Authorities have confirmed that NewSpring Church is fully cooperating with the police in the investigation.
The lawsuit states, “Jacop Hazlett knew of the security camera and its ability to see into the bathroom, meaning he was aware of the extraordinary risk he was taking had NewSpring Church simply been monitoring the video feed.”
4. Hazlett Passed a Screening Process That included a Criminal History & National Sex Offender Database Check Prior to Being Hired
Prior to being employed, church officials confirmed that Hazlett went through “detailed training” and also underwent a rigorous background check, which involved a criminal history check and a national sex offender database check.
5. Several Victims & Their Families Filed Lawsuits Against the Church
According to WCSC, seven families who were victimized by Hazlett reached a settlement with the church in January 2021. A total of 10 lawsuits have been filed against the church.
Five of those lawsuits have been settled for undisclosed amounts and one was dismissed, the news station reports.