A 28-year-old man volunteering in the kids ministry at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, is facing first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges after performing oral sex on a 3-year-old boy.
Bond hearing starting for Jacop Hazlett who is accused of sexually assaulting a three year old boy at Newspring church in North Charleston. Hazlett was a volunteer who worked with children. #chsnews pic.twitter.com/GH71Vfefai
— Harve Jacobs (@policereporter) November 28, 2018
According to investigators, Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett took the toddler into a bathroom at NewSpring Church this past Sunday. The affidavit stated the little boy went to the bathroom, and when he finished, Hazlett performed oral sex on him before the child pulled his pants up, WCSC-TV reported.
In a letter sent to the church, spokeswoman Suzanne Swift said the church leadership was made aware of “a concern” about Hazlett and the “possibility of inappropriate interaction with children.”
The notice continued:
Once we were made aware, we reviewed video footage from the past 90 days in which Hazlett served as a Kidspring volunteer. In the videos, it appears there was inappropriate conduct by Hazlett. We immediately took steps to prevent Hazlett from volunteering in any capacity at our church in the future and, at the same time, we reported this information to law enforcement. NewSpring is fully cooperating with law enforcement’s ongoing investigation.
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. As a part of NewSpring’s child safety and security program, we perform criminal background checks, interview each potential volunteer candidate one-on-one, and provide detailed training for volunteers serving with children of all ages. Our background check includes verification of Social Security number, address history, National Criminal Database Search, National Sex Offender Search, and re-verification of no records of criminal convictions or use of aliases. Hazlett successfully completed our volunteer screening process before he was allowed to volunteer. Also, as part of NewSpring’s commitment to safety and security, every KidSpring room contains video cameras.
If you have reason to believe inappropriate interactions may have occurred between Hazlett and your child, please contact Paul Schoolfield with the North Charleston Police Department immediately at 843-740-2521. You can also call Ryan Kirkland, our Charleston Campus Pastor, on his cell phone at 803-413-8422.
This entire ordeal elevates the need for background checks for anyone serving in ministry, particularly with children.
Swift, it should be noted, said a thorough background check was performed on Hazlett before he was permitted to work with children at the end of March. Both his background check, which was conducted via his social security number, as well as a search through the national criminal database, came back clean.
The incident, which happened inside the restroom, was caught on a camera positioned outside the bathroom. Swift made certain to note there are no cameras in the bathrooms.
Church staff have asked any parents who fear their child may be a victim to contact police.