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North Charleston church volunteer charged with molesting 3-year-old boy

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Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett

Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett. Provided

A 28-year-old North Charleston man has been charged with molesting a 3-year-old boy earlier this month.

Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett, a resident of Proximity Drive, faces one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 11 years old, according to his arrest affidavit and court records.

The affidavit outlines the alleged abuse, which occurred on Sunday at NewSpring Church, 5101 Ashley Phosphate Road.

According to the document, Hazlett was supervising a group of children aged 3-5 in a room called "the Tree House." 

At some point, Hazlett allegedly took the 3-year-old boy into a bathroom where the abuse occurred, the affidavit stated.

The document also stated that Hazlett's actions were caught on video surveillance footage.

Suzanne Swift, communications director for the church, stated that cameras are located in all rooms that are part of its KidSpring program, NewSpring's ministry for children up to 5th grade. Cameras are not located inside of bathrooms; "however, the view of the bathroom would be visible if the door (were) open."

Swift also provided The Post and Courier with a copy of a letter that was sent to parents of preschool children that attend its North Charleston campus. 

The letter stated that church officials were made aware of "a concern" involving Hazlett on Monday. After a review of video footage, they moved to prevent Hazlett from "volunteering in any capacity," and reported the allegations to law enforcement.  

The church is fully cooperating with the law enforcement investigation, the letter stated.

"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 letter stated.

That process includes criminal background checks, one-on-one interviews with each potential volunteer and "detailed training," for those volunteers, the letter stated. Each volunteer is run through searches of criminal history and national sex offender databases. Their Social Security numbers are verified and address histories are checked. 

Hazlett completed that screening process prior to volunteering, the letter stated.

Church officials stated that anyone who believes their child may have had inappropriate interactions with Hazlett should call North Charleston Police Officer Paul Schoolfield at 843-740-2521 or NewSpring's Charleston Campus Pastor Ryan Kirkland at 803-413-8422.

If convicted, Hazlett faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life. No probation or parole may be granted for the offense.

A check of State Law Enforcement Division records did not reveal any prior arrests or convictions for Hazlett.   

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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