Bellingham man out on bail in rape case arrested for allegedly raping another person

A Bellingham man has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting and threatening to kill a person while he was out on bail awaiting trial for allegedly forcibly raping a woman last September.

Nurlan Levi Varner, 20, was arrested Monday, April 22, on suspicion of second-degree rape, second-degree assault and felony harassment (threats to kill), according to Whatcom County Jail records and Deb Slater, a spokesperson with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Varner has been out of custody since Sept. 6, 2023 on a $5,000 cash alternative for a September 2023 case in which he’s accused of forcibly raping a woman at his home in the 100 block of West Hemmi Road.

Varner was charged Sept. 5 in Whatcom County Superior Court with one count of second-degree rape (forcible compulsion), a felony. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Sept. 15. A pre-trial no-contact order was also put in place between Varner and the woman, court records show.

Slater said the victims in the two cases are different people.

Recent arrest

On April 21, Whatcom sheriff’s deputies began investigating a sexual assault in which Varner was identified as the suspect, Slater said.

Deputies spoke with two witnesses and the victim, and developed probable cause to arrest Varner. Deputies requested an interview with Varner the following day, on April 22. Varner invoked his right to have a lawyer present, and he was taken into custody and booked into the Whatcom jail.

The crimes are alleged to have occurred over a three-day period, April 15-18, in the 9700 block of Northwood Road and involve a person known to Varner, Slater said.

Varner made his first appearance in court for the case April 22, but records and information from that hearing were not immediately available Tuesday morning, April 23.

Varner is currently in custody in lieu of $1 million bail, jail records show.

The Herald has asked the sheriff’s office for more information about the incident.

The Herald has also reached out to Varner’s criminal defense attorney and the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for comment.

Previous case

On Sept. 4, 2023, Whatcom sheriff’s deputies were called to the 100 block of West Hemmi Road in the Laurel area for the report of a rape that just occurred.

A woman told deputies she had been at Varner’s home around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 4. While the woman was at Varner’s home, Varner told her that he wanted to have sex with her. The woman told Varner no, and said she was only at his house to hang out, according to court records.

“Levi told (the woman) that he would just have sexual intercourse with her when she fell asleep,” court documents state.

The woman told deputies Varner then forced himself on her, removed her clothes and forcefully raped her, the records state. The woman said Varner also hit her in the face several times, according to court records.

Following the sexual assault, the woman grabbed her clothes, left Varner’s home and called law enforcement, the documents state.

Varner was arrested shortly before 6 a.m. on Sept. 5, and released shortly after 1 p.m. on a cash alternative bail the following day, according to court and jail records.

Records show prosecutors requested $200,000 bail for Varner at his first court appearance in the case on Sept. 5. Varner’s defense attorney at the time requested he be released on his personal recognizance, or if bail had to be imposed, that it be set at $10,000 with a $1,000 cash alternative.

A court commissioner ultimately set Varner’s bail at $50,000 with a $5,000 cash alternative, the records show.

While Varner has been out of custody on bail awaiting trial in the case, the court has approved limited travel outside of Whatcom County for him for work purposes.

Records show Varner was allowed to travel to Winthrop, Wash., Feb. 9-11; to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, March 1-3; and to Tacoma March 18-29.

Varner has also received court permission to travel to Bristol Bay in Alaska, where he will work on a boat from June 1 through July 27, according to court records.

It’s unclear at this time whether Varner’s Monday arrest will impact his court-authorized travel.

His jury trial in the 2023 rape case has tentatively been set for Aug. 26.


Brigid Collins Family Support Center: 360-734-4616,

Brigid Collins Family Support Center professionals are on-call between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, to answer questions about children, families, abuse prevention or treatment at (360) 734-4616.

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