Jacop Hazlett’s History
In his interview with detectives following his arrest, Hazlett did more than admit to molesting children at NewSpring, reports The Post and Courier. He revealed that his history of sexual misconduct goes back much further. When he was 17, Hazlett molested a 13-year-old boy, something for which he was not required to register as a sex offender. While initially jailed for his actions, Hazlett was later put on unsupervised probation. At one point, he was accused of violating that probation, but this accusation was dismissed. The Post and Courier says, “It remains unclear whether the background checks employed by NewSpring would have uncovered evidence of this arrest.”
Hazlett then requested and was granted permission to move to North Carolina, where he volunteered at two churches between 2011 and 2015. A lawsuit against Hazlett claims both churches expressed concern over how he interacted with children, and one ended up dismissing him from his position. Neither church filed criminal charges.
Besides the failure of the relevant authorities to communicate with one another about Hazlett’s sexual history, one of the biggest questions about his involvement with NewSpring is how the church could have overlooked months of video footage that clearly shows him assaulting children. There are over 36 cameras installed in the children’s ministry area, one of which is pointed at the bathroom where Hazlett took the children to violate them. Josh Slavin, an attorney representing some of the victims, told The Post and Courier that volunteers are supposed to monitor the footage in real time. Yet no one apparently noticed what Hazlett was doing. According to a lawsuit Slavin filed, church volunteers “either failed to monitor the live feeds or ignored the abuse that played out on the screens.”
Swift has said that NewSpring is open to changing its screening processes if necessary and that the church is currently reviewing its procedures. She also said that NewSpring is bringing in outside help in order to “determine if any changes need to be made to help ensure something like this does not happen again.”