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Mad Men's Hamm in violent uni rite

Published 10/04/2015

Jon Hamm was accused of helping to lead a violent 1990 'hazing' at the University of Texas (Invision/AP)
Jon Hamm was accused of helping to lead a violent 1990 'hazing' at the University of Texas (Invision/AP)

Mad Men star Jon Hamm took part in a violent student initiation that led to criminal charges, it has emerged.

The Emmy-nominated actor had not previously been publicly linked to a lawsuit filed by a member of a fraternal social organisation at the University of Texas, who said he was severely beaten, dragged by a hammer and had his trousers set on fire. In the 1991 lawsuit, Mark Sanders said Hamm participated "till the very end".

Criminal records show Hamm, now 44, was charged with hazing - the US term for incidents of ritual humiliation or bullying - and received deferred adjudication, which under Texas law means he had to successfully complete probation but was never convicted. A separate charge of assault was dismissed.

Representatives for Hamm and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner did not respond to requests for comment.

None of the records were sealed, but Hamm was not famous when the incident happened in 1990 and his connection to the case did not come to light until Star magazine reported on it this week.

The case resurfaced just as the critically-acclaimed Mad Men begins airing its final TV season on AMC.

According to the lawsuit, Hamm became "mad, I mean really mad" after the 20-year-old student joining the fraternity failed to recite things he was supposed to memorise about Hamm and other fraternity members. For Hamm, his list included Young Bobby, MC Hammer and UT Football Punching Bag.

The fraternity "pledge", Mark Sanders, said Hamm went on to set his jeans on fire, shove his face in dirt and strike him with a paddle.

"He rears back and hits me left-handed, and he hit me right over my right kidney, I mean square over it," Mr Sanders said in the lawsuit. "Good solid hit and that, that stood me right up."

Mr Sanders said he needed medical care and withdrew from the school. Court records show the lawsuit was dismissed in 1993.

Four other fraternity members were charged and pleaded no contest to misdemeanour hazing charges. The Sigma Nu chapter was shut down and never reopened on campus.

University records show Hamm arrived on campus in the autumn of 1989 and left after the same semester in which the hazing took place. In a 2008 interview with W Magazine, Hamm said he left school in his second year after his father died and returned to his home state of Missouri.

In March, Hamm completed a stint in rehab for what his representatives said was treatment for alcohol addiction.

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