Jon Hamm, documents say, hazed, hurt UT student in 1990

Documents on file with Travis County per Sigma Nu hazing, Jon Hamm

Long before he was the actor who plays advertising executive Donald Draper on the long-running "Mad Men" TV series, Jonathan Daniel Hamm was a University of Texas student who allegedly hazed and physically abused a freshman seeking to join Hamm as a member of the since-disbanded Sigma Nu fraternity, news reports declared this week.

We sought documentary details, landing the documents clickable above.

To our initial inquiry, a UT spokesman, Gary Susswein, guided us to a university website with an entry stating Hamm was a student in fall 1989 and was last a student in fall 1990.

In fall 1990, Hamm was among several students implicated by freshman Mark Allen Sanders, then of Fort Worth, who appears to have been interviewed shortly afterward by a UT assistant dean and then later by a criminal investigator for Travis County. News stories including this Associated Press report and this San Antonio Express-News story were touched off this week by a report in The Star, which posted this April 8 account.

According to the AP story, criminal records show Hamm, now 44, was charged with hazing 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, the story said. The Sigma Nu chapter was disbanded as a result.

By phone, the current Travis County attorney, David Escamilla, told us he couldn’t comment on the Sigma Nu matter. His predecessor as county attorney, Ken Oden, who led the investigation of fraternities including Sigma Nu, told us by email that "In the interest of accuracy and fairness I would not single out a particular person or organization for comment." He further cautioned against making judgments years afterward; read his full email to us here.

We’ve made open-records’ requests for documents that could confirm precisely when Hamm, who left the university after the described events, was arrested and what charges, if any, were pressed. By phone, Roger Wade, spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff, said that according to a booking sheet, Hamm was arrested Aug. 24, 1993, in connection with outstanding warrants for hazing and assault causing bodily injury.

We identified Travis County records relating to a civil lawsuit brought by Sanders against the fraternity and several members including Hamm. The documents include two accounts apparently drawing on what Sanders then said occurred early one morning at the fraternity house. They do not include a response from Hamm.

See the documents together here. Get to the first mention of Hamm here.


--A "Bulls--- List" lists Sigma Nu members, their hometowns, majors, interests, nicknames, favorite songs and when they joined the fraternity, it appears. These were bits of trivia that pledges purportedly had to memorize and recite whenever requested by fraternity members. Hamm’s entry suggests he’s an English major from St. Louis who likes MC Hammer. Also there without explanation: "UT football punching bag." The entry indicates he joined the fraternity in fall 1989.

--A Nov. 14, 1990 statement was taken by Glenn Maloney, UT assistant dean of students from someone whose name was crossed out in the document, which appears to present Sanders’ recap of events that started with his fielding a phone call at 2:30 a.m. Saturday Nov. 10, 1990 telling him to get over to the nearby fraternity house. The statement describes Hamm asking Sanders to "repeat his bulls---," meaning the list entry for Hamm. After Sanders failed to recall one item on Hamm’s list, he was subjected to various actions--ranging from beatings with a wooden paddle to being lifted by his underwear (while still wearing his jeans) to being led around with a hammer claw in a personally violative way, according to the statement.

--The transcript of a Feb. 28, 1991, interview of Sanders by Stanley Anderson, an investigator for Travis County. A county attorney, Ruben Castaneda, opened the interview (which was in the Austin office of a law firm representing Sanders (Whitehurst and Harkness) in the civil lawsuit. "In order to proceed with our criminal investigation against Sigma Nu Fraternity as well as various individuals," Castaneda said.

In the interview, Sanders made several mentions of alleged actions by Hamm. We’ve marked those.

According to news accounts including the AP story, Hamm has made no comment about the described events. We failed to find Sanders and did not hear back from his lawyer in the civil matter.