The pastors of New Spring’s Charleston campus addressed allegations of sexual abuse at its children’s ministry, KidSpring.
On Sunday, pastors Brad Cooper and Ryan Kirkland spoke to the congregation about the accusations against volunteer Jacop Hazlet.
Cooper, one of three lead pastors across all NewSpring church locations in the state, said the allegations are something he never thought would happen at the church.
“[Sexual assault allegations are] something we never thought we would go through as a church but it’s a reality and we have to face it,” Cooper said. “For the last couple of weeks and months, evil had made its way around our Kid Spring ministry and hurt some of our kids”
Kirkland, the pastor of New Spring’s Charleston location, said after the allegations were revealed, church members were heartbroken but remain fully corporative with local police.
“We began making tough phone calls and meetings, it has broken our hearts,” Kirkland said. “We know everything won’t be solved today but we are here for everything. This is ongoing and tough for us as a family.”
Kirkland encouraged church goes to remain positive through the devastating period.
“I know many of you are feeling deep anger and bitterness, the fruit of listening to that emotion will continue to facilitate evil in this world. We won’t respond in extreme emotion, not pay back evil with evil. We will love how you first loved us even though its hard and it hurts, it’s confusing to do so,” Kirkland said.
Hazlet was charged on Wednesday with sexually abusing a child in one of the church’s restrooms. Soon after Hazlett’s arrest, a lawsuit revealed there were more than a dozen incidents caught on camera over the last three months.
A lawsuit has been filed against Hazlett and the church. The attorney involved claims Hazlett sexually assault at least 14 victims over the last three months and said more could have been done to prevent the abuse from happening.
Church spokeswoman Suzanne Swift said the church did a thorough background check on Hazlett before he started volunteering and it came back clean.
Hazlett has since been denied bond. Church officials are asking any parents who believe their child may be a victim to contact law enforcement.
Source: Live 5 News Brooke Griffin
Photo Credit: Rhema Bible Training College
Photo Credit: WCSC
Video: ABC 4 News Erica Lunsford