Lawsuit filed against NewSpring Church, former volunteer over child sexual abuse

Jacop Hazlett in bond court (WCIV)

Seven families filed a lawsuit Tuesday against NewSpring Church and Jacop Hazlett, 28, the man accused of molesting very young children while serving as a daycare volunteer at the North Charleston church.

Hazlett was arrested Nov. 27, 2018, initially on one charge of criminal sexual conduct with a minor after authorities and church leaders received complaints of Hazlett sexually abusing a 3-year-old boy at the North Charleston mega-church campus.

Shortly after the arrest, eight additional charges were added.

According to the lawsuit, between 2011-2014, Hazlett volunteered at two churches in North Carolina and was asked to leave from both positions due to "concerns about his behavior around children."

"Upon information and belief, when Hazlett arrived at NewSpring, the church did not contact (either church) for a reference," the lawsuit states. "Had NewSpring contacted (the churches), NewSpring would have learned why Hazlett was reassigned and eventually asked to leave due to red flags regarding Hazleet's behavior with kids."

Hazlett is now charged with 14 counts of first and third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

He had been volunteering at NewSpring Church for nearly eight months when the abuse was discovered, according to NewSpring.

Hazlett has since admitted to the assaults, according to North Charleston investigators.

NewSpring church surveillance video revealed Hazlett molested children several times over a 90-day period, which is how long the church says it stores security footage.

"NewSpring either did not monitor the live feeds or ignored the abuse that was depicted on the live security feed," the lawsuit states. "It remains to be investigated just how far back Jacop Hazlett's sexual abuse of young boys at NewSpring Chruch goes, and how many victims Hazlett may have in addition to the minor plaintiffs."

READ MORE | 5 new child sex charges for North Charleston NewSpring volunteer

The lawsuit is seeking actual damages, punitive damages, legal costs and other relief associated with emotional distress, existing medical and psychiatric bills, future psychiatric bills and more.

"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," states Joshua Slavin, an attorney at the law offices of Joshua E. Slavin and Andreozzi & Associates, which is handling the lawsuit.

In addition to the NewSpring Church charges, police in Davidson, North Carolina are investigating an additional complaint against Hazlett, after a 7-year-old boy came forward with an accusation against him.

The lawsuit also states Hazlett was charged in Ohio at age 17 with felony sexual assault of a child under 13 years old.

Read the full lawsuit below:

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