Volunteer arrested for sexually assaulting three-year-old boy inside a church
28-year-old Jacop Hazlett was arrested and charged after surveillance footage showed him performing a sex act on a three-year-old boy inside the church toilet.
A volunteer at a North Charleston, South Carolina megachurch has been arrested after it was uncovered that he had sexually assaulted a three-year-old boy inside the church. 28-year-old Jacop Hazlett was arrested by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
According to WCIV, the assault unfolded on Sunday, November 25, at the Newspring Church when Hazlett was looking after a group of children aged between three and five. Surveillance footage shows the 28-year-old leading the victim from the classroom to the bathroom and then helping the boy use the toilet before performing oral sex on him.
Hazlett looked around to check if he was being watched before committing the act but was not aware that church policy dictated that cameras be installed in all its children's rooms for security and safety reasons. The church was subsequently made aware of the incident the next day, Monday, November 26, and the authorities were alerted soon after.
Newspring Church representative Suzanne Swift revealed to WCIV that as soon as they came to know of Hazlett's actions and confirmed he had sexually assaulted the child through the footage, steps were taken to ensure that the 28-year-old was escorted off the premises.
In a letter addressed to parents, church officials reported Hazlett's abuse and wrote they had moved 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." When questions arose on how the cameras were able to record what had taken place inside the bathroom, the church officials clarified that Hazlett had left the door to the stall open while performing the sex act on the victim.
Swift also explained that they had hired Hazlett only after putting him through an extensive criminal and sex offender background check that cleared him to work with the children at the church. She said all Newspring Church volunteers who work with children are subjected to such background checks before they're approved to be volunteers.
The 28-year-old had reportedly begun working at the church eight months ago in March 2018, and North Charleston Police spokesman Spencer Prior said investigators are now working to determine if there are any additional victims. The church has also asked that parents report any "inappropriate interactions" involving Hazlett to the police department. Hazlett is currently in custody at the sheriff's office. He made his first appearance in court this past Wednesday, November 28, and was denied bond by the judge. He is scheduled for his next appearance on January 14, 2019. If convicted of his charges, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.