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How did former NewSpring volunteer's sex abuse felony not appear on a background check?

Jacop Hazlett in bond court (WCIV)

ABC News 4 was the first to report Tuesday that Jacop Hazlett was charged with sexually abusing a minor in Ohio 11 years ago. The victim was under 13. Hazlett was 17 at the time, but he was tried as an adult.

His charge was reduced from a sex crime to felony assault in exchange for a guilty plea.

The question is: Why that was not reported to a criminal database?

“The FBI will be at the mercy at what the city, county and state law enforcement sends them,” says Brad Garrett, an FBI and terrorism expert for ABC News. “The state police and FBI are just repositories of what jurisdiction sends them. So, that is a big problem."

According to the Ohio Attorney General's office, Hazlett's felony should have been reported as long as his record as a juvenile was not sealed.

Under Ohio state law, every clerk of court must send a weekly report of felony cases including juveniles.

In turn that report is entered into the state's and the FBI’s criminal database.

“So, if you have a crime, for example, in Charleston, South Carolina, and the person is convicted or pleads guilty to “x”, let’s say burglary, then it would be up to the jurisdiction in Charleston, to upload that computer-wise into the FBI so it can go into a database.”

For a church like Newspring, Garett says they really are at the mercy of the system.

“I have a lot of empathy for schools, churches, hospitals, because they are really trying get to the real truth about people they’re trying to get cleared,” Garrett says.

In this case, Hazlett seems to have slipped through the cracks.

Our expert says references are key to the clearance process for volunteers, especially if they are dealing with children.

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