The affidavit says the sexagenarian ran toward the 9-year-old boy, pushing him into a truck and then down to the ground. The child’s face was smashed into the ground multiple times, causing him to lose consciousness at one point. The boy feared for his life as he was kicked 10 to 20 times while lying facedown in the snow, according to the affidavit, which was written by Ward County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Van Pelt.
The other children ran away during the attack.
After the alleged assault, the 9-year-old was unable to stand on his own. The person who made the emergency call put the boy on a sled and pulled him to the home of the boy’s grandfather, according to court documents.
The child declined care while being interviewed by Van Pelt, but his grandfather later drove him to a hospital emergency room.
Doctors found the child had liquid in his abdomen, a knot on the right side of his forehead, a lump on the left side of his head and swelling under his right eye, according to court records.
Deputies went to Van Hassel’s home that day, knocked on his door and asked whether he knew why they were there. “For beating up that kid,” he told them, according to the affidavit. He confirmed the location of the attack, and police arrested him.
Van Hassel was charged with aggravated assault for a victim under 12, according to court records.
In a recorded statement at the Ward County Jail, Van Hassel said the group of kids was harassing him and throwing rocks and snowballs at him and his dog, according to the affidavit. The grandfather of the boy attacked told deputies that Van Hassel and the children had “ongoing issues between them,” according to court documents.
The veteran filed an application for indigent defense services, claiming he gets only enough money to cover his monthly expenses, which include food and a car payment for a 2014 Ford Mustang for which he owes about $8,000, according to court records. He listed five other vehicles, including a 2008 Ford Mustang, a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a 1992 Ford van.
District Judge Todd L. Cresap found Van Hassel not to be indigent, according to court documents.
Van Hassel is out on bail. His preliminary hearing will take place Nov. 15, and his pretrial conference is scheduled for Jan. 22.
If Van Hassel is found guilty, he could receive up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000.