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South Carolina megachurch volunteer convicted of sexually abusing kids as young as 3

Hayley Fowler

A 28-year-old former church volunteer convicted of sexually assaulting boys — some as young as 3 — will spend decades behind bars, media outlets report.

Jacop Hazlett was found guilty on all counts in a South Carolina courtroom on Thursday and sentenced to 75 years in prison, Anne Emerson with ABC News 4 reported.

The trial lasted only two days with one day of testimony, according to ABC News 4.

He was facing six charges of sex abuse relating to incidents that occurred in 2018 at NewSpring Church in North Charleston, News 2 reported.

Hazlett had been a volunteer in the church preschool for roughly nine months when he was caught on surveillance footage molesting a 3-year-old boy in the bathroom, McClatchy News previously reported.

Members of the jury saw that surveillance video during the trial, according to News 2. They also reportedly asked to rewatch it during deliberations.

Hazlett was initially arrested in November 2018 and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 11 years old, McClatchy News reported.

But prosecutors filed additional charges on Dec. 3, 2018, of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to McClatchy News. A grand jury then indicted him on 10 new counts of abuse in August.

The parents of one victim also filed a lawsuit against him.

“NewSpring Church reviewed its security camera footage going back ninety days and found fourteen separate incidents where Jacop Hazlett sexually abused boys in the three-to-four-year-old day care room bathroom,” the suit states, according to McClatchy News.

The church responded earlier this year, saying the case should be dismissed because it didn’t “intend, direct or foresee” Hazlett’s criminal actions, McClatchy News reported.

NewSpring has 14 locations in South Carolina, its website states.

Hazlett didn’t testify, nor did his defense attorney “present any evidence or witnesses in the case,” News 2 reported.

But his attorney did get a juror released and replaced at the last minute after the jury member sent a note to the judge asking for a directed verdict, according to News 2. The prosecution did not object.

The jury was released to deliberate around noon, the media outlet reported. According to ABC News 4, the verdict was announced just before 5 p.m.