Jon Hamm's Violent 'Mad' Past Comes Back to Haunt Him With Resurfaced Lawsuit

jon hamm amc mad men premiereMad Men's leading man Jon Hamm has seen his star rise big time since he began playing Don Draper on the AMC hit series. But if you thought Don was the only one with a troubling, dark past, think again. In a 1991 lawsuit that surfaced this week and was obtained by the Associated Press, Hamm was identified as one of a number of fraternity members who participated in a violent college hazing indicent in November 1990 at the University of Texas-Austin.


The suit claims that Hamm became "mad, I mean really mad," when a new pledge, identified in the papers as Mark Allen Sanders, could not recite things he was supposed to memorize. In the suit, Sanders alleged that Hamm hit him and shoved his face in the dirt, describing in cringe-worthy detail:

He rears back and hits me left-handed, and he hit me right over my right kidney, I mean square over it. Good solid hit and that, that stood me right up.


This isn't exactly news, because when the incident occurred, it was widely reported, but of course no one knew Hamm at the time. He was identified as 20-year-old Jonathan Hamm of St. Louis in a story that ran in the San Antonio Light, which reported that Sanders was beaten with a paddle and broom and led around the frat house “with the claw of a hammer beneath his genitals." As if that wasn't enough, Sanders claimed that Hamm set his pants on fire, according to the AP.

More from The Stir: Jon Hamm Mourns End of 'Mad Men': What's Next After Don Draper?

The outlet reports that Hamm was charged with hazing but not convicted. Instead, he got a "deferred adjudication," which under Texas law allows a case to be dismissed if the defendant successfully completes probation.

Meanwhile, he dropped out of school the very same semester that the incident occurred. Hamm previously spoke to the Daily Mail in 2012 about leaving the university, explaining:

I dropped out of school, moved into the basement of my older half-sister Julie’s house, enrolled in a local college and sank into depression. It was the classic definition of clinical depression; you want to stay in bed all day, you sleep till four o’clock in the afternoon. I didn’t have any drive to get up and do anything. It was rough: it stinks.

And in '08, he admitted that although he wanted to become an actor, his priorities in school were "getting laid and getting hammered."

Multiple media outlets have reached out to Hamm's reps for a comment, and they haven't yet responded. It will be interesting to see what sort of statement they release, as this will be impossible to ignore.

There's never an excuse for behavior like what is described in this lawsuit, and of course, it's disturbing as it is to think of Hamm having inflicted these absolutely heinous acts on a fraternity pledge, but it bears noting that in addition to the clinical depression he mentioned to the Daily Mail, the actor only recently completed a 30-day program for alcohol abuse and has previously said that his childhood was "difficult in the best of circumstances."

Hamm has battled dark demons over the years. We love to love and then hate celebs in the blink of an eye, but judging him now for something that occurred 25 years ago and branding him a one-dimensional monster just doesn't seem right. Much like Don Draper's story, there's clearly much more to this story than "good guy" vs. "bad guy." And while much ink has already been spilled on this lawsuit, we'll just have to wait and hear what Hamm himself has to say about that story.

Does this change how you think of Jon Hamm?


Image via Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Read More >