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N. Charleston NewSpring volunteer molested Ohio child in 2007, court records show

Jacop Hazlett (Dorchester County Detention Center)

A man accused of molesting several children at NewSpring Church in North Charleston has a criminal history of sexual assault on minors dating back more than a decade, court documents show.

Jacop Hazlett, now 28, inappropriately touched a young Ohio boy in 2007, according to Columbiana County court documents obtained by ABC News 4 in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Court records show Hazlett "kissed and touched" another boy "between his legs." The other boy was under 13 years old, per court records. Hazlett was only 17, himself a minor.

Columbiana County prosecuted Hazlett as a juvenile delinquent, charging him first with gross sexual imposition.

Hazlett pleaded not guilty, but later entered a guilty plea when prosecutors lessened the charge to attempted felony assault. He served only 21 days in jail.

Hazlett is now accused of sexually assaulting multiple young boys over a period of at least 90 days while serving as volunteer youth chaperone at NewSpring's North Charleston campus.

Hazlett began volunteering at NewSpring Church in North Charleston in late March 2018, after church officials say he passed a criminal background check and the church's volunteer screening process.

NewSpring's 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," NewSpring spokesperson Suzanne Swift said in a Nov. 28 email to ABC News 4.

"The background check we performed on Hazlett was returned to us with no records found. We had no knowledge of Hazlett's sealed juvenile record," Swift added in an emailed statement Tuesday.

North Charleston Police arrested Hazlett Nov. 27 after investigators said an accusation of sexual assault on a 3-year-old boy at the church was corroborated by surveillance video.

As of Dec. 11, 2018, North Charleston Police have charged Hazlett with 14 counts of of first and third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

One charge was filed Nov. 27. Eight were filed Nov. 30. Five more charges were filed Dec. 11.

Many of the alleged assaults were recorded by the church's surveillance cameras, and Hazlett has since admitted to molesting children under his supervision at the church, according to police.

After Hazlett's November arrest in North Charleston, police in Davidson, North Carolina said they received a complaint of a past assault by Hazlett on a now 7-year-old boy. That case is still being investigated.

North Charleston investigators say Hazlett admitted to detectives he knew his actions with children were wrong, but also said he found young boys "sexually attractive."

Hazlett is due in bond court in North Charleston Wednesday, Dec. 12, on the latest five charges against him.


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