Three workers involved in moving a historic house from Oak Harbor to Coupeville last month are facing felony assault charges related to an alleged hazing incident that got out of control, according to court documents.
One of the men has a criminal history and may face life in prison if convicted of the charge.
Prosecutors charged Nicholas G. Lorden, 33, of Arlington, John P. Kirk, Jr., 29, of Marysville, and Jason E. Ronen, 28, of Arlington, in Island County Superior Court Oct. 31. The two men are each facing a single count of assault in the second degree.
Deputy Robert Mirabal with the Island County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call Oct. 26 from a 22-year-old man who said he was assaulted by his co-workers.
The men worked for the company that moved the circa-1879 Ely farmhouse from Oak Harbor to a new home in Coupeville; the house was transported by truck and barge.
The company put up the workers at an Airbnb in Coupeville. The alleged victim said they all had finished working for the day and had a barbecue and a few drinks. He went to bed but the three other men started harassing him by pulling the sheets off the bed. One of the men later described it as a hazing incident since the victim was the newest member of the team.
The man texted the owner and told him what happened, then went back to bed. The other men dragged him back out and called him a “snitch” for telling the boss what had happened, Mirabal wrote in his report.
The men started punching the victim while he was being held in a “bear hug.” One of the men put him in a choke hold and made it hard for him to breath, the report states.
The victim was covered in blood when the deputy arrived. The man had a large knot on the back of his head, a swollen lip and a possible broken nose, Mirabal wrote.
If convicted of the charge against him, Lorden may be considered a persistent offender under the state’s Persistent Offender Accountability Act, also known as the three-strikes law.
If so, he could face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, court documents state.