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New Charges Against Church Volunteer Accused Of Performing Oral Sex On 3-Year-Old Boy In Church Restroom
The initial allegation against Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett has led to more charges of inappropriate behavior with 3- and 4-year-old boys at the NewSpring church in North Charleston, South Carolina, authorities said.
A 28-year-old volunteer at a South Carolina megachurch, who has been accused of performing oral sex on a 3-year-old boy in one of the church's restrooms, is now facing new charges.
Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett has been charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor younger than 11, as well as seven additional counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, The Post and Courier reports. He'd initially been charged with just one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The new charges were added after Hazlett allegedly told investigators during an interview that he had inappropriately touched and took photos and video of multiple children at the church, reports WCSC.
According to affidavits filed in the case, the male victims were all between the ages of 3 and 4 years old.
Hazlett allegedly told investigators he was attracted to young boys even though he knew it was wrong, the affidavit said.
Hazlett has also been named in a civil suit filed Nov. 28 that claims he may have sexually abused at least 14 children, The Post and Courier reports.
These latest allegations come just days after Hazlett was accused in the initial incident involving the 3-year-old boy. In that incident, Hazlett had allegedly been supervising a group of 3- to 5-year-olds in the "Tree House" room at the NewSpring Church in North Charleston late last month when one of children in the room had to use the restroom, according to The Post and Courier.
Hazlett allegedly performed oral sex on the boy in the bathroom, WBTV reports citing an affidavit. The alleged abuse was caught on church surveillance cameras. Although the church does not have cameras inside its restrooms, there are cameras outside of the bathrooms and Suzanne Swift, communications director for the church, told The Post and Courier the bathroom would have been visible "if the door (were) open."
The church was made aware of a "concern" related to Hazlett on Monday Nov. 26 and decided to look at past surveillance footage and found what appeared to be "inappropriate conduct," they said in a statement obtained by WBTV.
After they learned of the incident, church staff immediately took action to prevent Hazlett from volunteering at the church and contacted authorities.
"NewSpring is steadfastly committed to safety and security, and because of this commitment, we have an extensive screening process for all adults before they are allowed to volunteer with children, birth through 12th grade," the statement said.
Hazlett, who had been volunteering at the church since March, had allegedly passed the screening, which includes verification of the volunteer's social security number, a criminal database search, national sex offender search and one-on-one interviews.
Charleston attorneys David Yarborough and William Applegate have questioned that screening process, however, telling The Post and Courier they had been contacted by other possible abuse victims who have some connection to the church.
"One of our greatest areas of concern is NewSpring's negligence in these cases," Applegate said in a statement. "There have been many questions raise about the institutional failures that created an environment for child sexual abuse to occur repeatedly."
A judge ordered a $1.2 million bond for Hazlett Saturday for the eight new additional charges, WCSC reports.
[Photo: Associated Press]