NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Seven families have filed a lawsuit against a North Charleston church and a former volunteer who is accused of sexually abusing at least twelve children at the facility.
Attorney Joshua Slavin said he filed the lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of seven victims and their families against 28-year-old Jacop Hazlett and the NewSpring Church.
“Now, seven brave families have agreed to fight for justice on behalf of their young sons, bring consequences for those responsible, and help prevent a tragedy like this from happening in the future,” Slavin said in a statement.
Days later, he was charged with eight third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges afteran interview with police in which investigators say Hazlett told detectives he inappropriately touched, and took video as well as photos of numerous children at the church.
The new suit alleges NewSpring Church did not contact the two previous churches Hazlett worked in North Carolina, and if they had done so they would have learned that Hazlett was let go “due to red-flags regarding Hazlett’s behavior with kids.”
The suit states while Hazlett was volunteering at a North Carolina church, fellow volunteers had voiced concerns to church leaders about his interactions with children.
According to attorneys, he was then asked to leave the church due to concerns about his behavior around children.
The suit claims Hazlett then worked at another North Carolina church where he was moved to an administrative volunteer “with no direct contact or oversight of kids” because the church leadership had an “uneasy feeling with how he interacted with supervised kids.”
Eventually, Hazlett was dismissed from that church. Attorneys said they attained information that Hazlett molested at least one young boy while living in North Carolina.
The lawsuit states Hazlett began to sexually abuse young children placed in his care shortly after he began volunteering at NewSpring Church in North Charleston.
Attorneys say that on Nov. 26, 2018, NewSpring church became aware that Hazlett had sexually abused a “three-or-four-year-old boy during Sunday services.” According to the suit, NewSpring reviewed its security camera footage going back ninety days and found fourteen separate incidents where Hazlett sexually abused boys in the bathroom.
The suit claims that Hazlett took the children into the bathroom alone and prevented them from leaving, and sexually abused the victims and created child pornography.
Lawyers say that no one at NewSpring noticed Hazlett was molesting children on a live camera feed.
The suit states that police discovered child porn on Hazlett’s phone of multiple children including some of the victims at the church.
In addition, attorneys say NewSpring did not inquire on Hazlett’s criminal record in Ohio.
Attorneys said that Hazlett has a history of sexually abusing children including an incidentwhen he was 17 years old and was charged with felony sexual assault of a child under 13 years old in Ohio.
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