NEWSPRING CHURCH CHILD SEX ABUSE SUSPECT REJECTS PLEA DEAL, CASE HEADS TO TRIAL
November 8, 2019
Matt Dillane, Brodie Hart
ABC NEWS 4
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A North Charleston church volunteer facing numerous charges after officials said he sexually abused children rejected a plea deal on Friday.
Jacop Hazlett, a former NewSpring Church children's class volunteer, was first charged in November and December 2018 for incidents related to his time with the church.
"It's a shame Mr. Hazlett is prolonging the inevitable," said Josh Slavin, an attorney representing eight victim in the case.
On Friday morning, Hazlet took a shackled walk into court in front of about 30 family members of victims.
Dorchester County prosecutors said they would likely move forward with only three charges in the December trial and would only prosecute charges relating to one victim, rather than all 15 victims in the case. They said that will limit the possibility of an appeal while still prosecuting the count of first degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a sentence up to life in prison.
"This is the hardest thing a family could face," Slaven added. "He left a lot of harm in his wake, a lot of victims."
Hazlett faces 23 total charges, they include:
• 2 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor
• 9 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor
• 12 counts of sexual exploitation with a minor
He had volunteered on Sundays for around nine months that year.
It was during this time that investigators said Hazlett sexually abused the children in his care and recorded pornographic images of them.
Church officials said that when they reviewed security footage from a children's church room prior to his arrest, they discovered repeated abuses. They added that they then reported the incidents to law enforcement.
"This is something that the families and children will be dealing with for a long time, they've had a lot taken away from them ," Slaven said.
On Friday, Hazlett rejected the offer for 50 years in prison, which included 15 indictments for each victim in the case.
Pre-trial motions are expected to start on Dec. 9.
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