By Harve Jacobs
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A volunteer at a church in North Charleston is facing charges after performing oral sex on a child, according to an affidavit.
A judge denied bond Wednesday for Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett, 28, who is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Investigators say Hazlett escorted a 3-year-old boy into a bathroom at the Newspring Church, located in the 5100 block of Ashley Phosphate Road on Nov. 25. The affidavit states the boy used the restroom and when he was finished, Hazlett performed oral sex on him before pulling the boy’s pants back up.
The act was also caught on video surveillance cameras, according to the affidavit. An investigator said the incident happened inside the bathroom and was caught on a camera positioned outside the bathroom.
Church spokesperson Suzanne Swift says there are no cameras inside the bathrooms at the church.
On Wednesday morning, the church issued a statement to families of children in their preschool ministry:
On Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, NewSpring Church was made aware of a concern about Jake Hazlett (“Hazlett”), a volunteer who served in KidSpring at the Charleston Campus, and the possibility of inappropriate interaction with children.
Once we were made aware, we reviewed video footage from the past 90 days in which Hazlett served as a Kidspring volunteer. In the videos, it appears there was inappropriate conduct by Hazlett. We immediately took steps to prevent Hazlett from volunteering in any capacity at our church in the future and, at the same time, we reported this information to law enforcement. NewSpring is fully cooperating with law enforcement’s ongoing investigation.
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. As a part of NewSpring’s child safety and security program, we perform criminal background checks, interview each potential volunteer candidate one-on-one, and provide detailed training for volunteers serving with children of all ages. Our 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. Hazlett successfully completed our volunteer screening process before he was allowed to volunteer. Also, as part of NewSpring's commitment to safety and security, every KidSpring room contains video cameras.
If you have reason to believe inappropriate interactions may have occurred between Hazlett and your child, please contact Paul Schoolfield with the North Charleston Police Department immediately at 843-740-2521. You can also call Ryan Kirkland, our Charleston Campus Pastor, on his cell phone at 803-413-8422.
Swift says the church did a thorough background check on Hazlett before he started volunteering at the end of March. Swift said that background check came back clean. The background check included running his social security number and a search of the national criminal database and the national sex offender database, she said.
A victim advocate appeared at Hazlett’s bond hearing and asked the judge to deny bond. The judge did so, saying only a circuit judge could grant bond for that charge.
Church officials are asking any parents who believe their child may be a victim to contact police.
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