Man accused of sexually assaulting boys at church will not testify

Man accused of sexually assaulting boys at church will not testify
Jacop Hazlett is accused of sexually assaulting multiple young boys inside the NewSpring church in North Charleston where he was a former volunteer. (Source: Live 5 News)

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A man accused of sexually assaulting boys at a North Charleston church will not testify as both prosecutors and lawyers rested their case on Wednesday.

Jacop Hazlett is accused of sexually assaulting 15 young boys inside the NewSpring Church in North Charleston where he was a former volunteer.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday morning after Hazlett decided not to testify. That decision came after he met with his mother about the topic.

Wednesday was an emotional day of testimony from four parents. The first parent identified her son in five photos that showed his privates. She then broke down in tears.

Three other parents identified photos of their children, two of which said they remember dropping their sons off to Hazlett.

Police say Hazlett sexually assaulted the four of them last November and took pictures of them. It all happened over the span of an hour inside a bathroom at the church.

According to investigators, it was all caught on camera in the classroom. That video footage was shown to the jury on Wednesday, but it was first seen by the church’s safety director last year.

“There were 5 separate incidents,” he testified. “Four children.”

The trial concerns just six of the 23 charges against Hazlett including first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

The trial also only pertains to four of the 15 alleged victims.

One item prosecutors put forth Tuesday was a video interview of Hazlett conducted by a police investigator before any arrests were made. In the video, Hazlett can be heard telling the investigator that he touched the private parts of children and took pictures of them as well.

During this portion of the court hearing, Hazlett was seen crying while watching the interrogation videos.

At least four lawsuits have been filed against NewSpring Church where Hazlett volunteered since news broke that he had been accused of molesting underage youth at the church. Lawsuits claim Hazlett was working with the KidSpring children ministry and daycare program at the time of the incident.

Hazlett gave an interview to police on Nov. 27, 2018, telling detectives that he inappropriately touched, and took video as well as photos of numerous children at the church, according to the affidavit. Hazlett also told police he was sexually attracted to young males and knew his actions were wrong, the affidavit stated.

Hazlett’s initial arrest stemmed from a charge which stated that Hazlett escorted a 3-year-old boy into a bathroom at the NewSpring Church and performed a sex act on him.

A lawsuit filed in late November 2018 claimed the church found 14 separate incidents of sexual abuse involving Hazlett and boys in a church daycare bathroom when it reviewed security camera footage from the previous 90 days.

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