A Southern Baptist megachurch in South Carolina says it is not responsible for actions of a former volunteer criminally accused of sexually assaulting preschool boys inside a church bathroom while security cameras rolled.
Seven families filed a lawsuit Feb. 19 blaming NewSpring Church — a 14-campus multi-site congregation launched originally as a church plant by the South Carolina Baptist Convention – for allowing Jacop Hazlett to volunteer in its daycare despite past concerns about his interactions with children at two previous large churches also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Hazlett, 29, is in jail since his December arrest facing multiple felony charges after allegedly molesting numerous preschool boys over a period of 90 days inside a bathroom at the North Charleston campus of NewSpring Church.
The parents of seven alleged victims say NewSpring Church is familiar with potential risk, because Hazlett started attending and working with preschoolers about the time a former youth pastor was charged with soliciting sex with a minor.
The lawsuit says NewSpring nevertheless placed children in Hazlett’s care after a single interview, apparently unaware he was asked to leave both Cove Church and Elevation Church multi-site megachurches in North Carolina due to concerns about his behavior around children.