ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA)–A jury has found a man guilty of abusing several children in a Lowcountry church. That church, has ties to The Upstate.
Jacop Hazlett sexually abused children at a NewSpring church location in North Charleston. The headquarters for that church is in Anderson.
“It really comes down to who knew what and when,” said Attorney John Reckenbeil.
Although he isn’t involved in the case, he says NewSpring could face legal issues in the future.
“You have this church that polls themselves out to, bring your kids, we will babysit them while you go to worship,” said Reckenbeil.
The church is also facing a civil lawsuit from the family of one of the alleged victims. The lawsuit says the church had a duty to protect children under their care claiming negligence.
Reckenbeil says not only could the church itself be in trouble but also individuals.
“Anyone who has a supervisor role, there has to be really a kind of dissecting of the checks and balances to see who literally is viewing or watching or overseeing these people,” said Reckenbeil.
And when it comes to oversight, it turns out there might not be much.
“It’s a very kind of blurred lines on whether or not there is responsibility because they are a non-profit organization,” said Reckenbeil.
Even so Reckenbeil thinks this case will launch a closer look at how church organized childcare services are managed.
“Realistically it’s going to come down to did people at the higher levels know about this, and when did they act,” said Reckenbeil.
He has some strong words for those who use their power for wrongdoing.
“Anybody that uses their god in a way that manipulates people for sexual advances or for money–there’s a special place in hell for those people.”
NewSpring said in a statement: “We are grateful justice was served today in this criminal case against Hazlett and are hopeful the verdict will help victims and families in the healing process. “