Nearly two months after being arrested on charges of simple assault and domestic violence, potential incoming Wharton freshman Ronald “Hopper” Hillegass is set to stand trial.
Hillegass, a senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., was detained last month by local police for allegedly burning his girlfriend’s leg with a hot lamp after a school dance in January. Hillegass, whose grandfather attended the Perelman School of Medicine, declined to comment on whether his offer of admission still stands since his arrest. Hopper did not speak to The Daily Pennsylvanian for this article at the behest of his attorneys.
The complaint was originally reported to a school disciplinary committee, which asked Hillegass to leave school until “it could be sorted out,” said a relative of Hillegass’s — who works in communications at a Washington, D.C. firm . St. Paul’s deferred comment on Hillegass to this relative, who spoke on behalf of the family.
Hillegass’ relative and a member of the heavyweight rowing team — who spoke with Heavyweight Rowing Coach Greg Myhr before his termination — both said that he was being recruited to row at Penn. In an interview on Wednesday, the relative and Andy Good, an attorney representing the Hillegass family, would not confirm whether Hopper is still being recruited.
Associate Director of Athletic Communications Chas Dorman said he was not aware of the situation and that Penn Athletics has “calls into the admissions office.” Myhr, whose contract was not renewed this week, was unavailable for comment.
Dorman cited an NCAA rule preventing coaches from speaking about student-athletes before their recruitment is officially confirmed by the University.
Immediately following the incident, Hillegass proactively contacted both the Penn Admissions Office and the rowing coach, the relative said. Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said that the Admissions Office is “aware of the situation and the ongoing legal process,” but did not comment on whether Penn had reconsidered Hillegass’ admission.
Neither Penn Athletics nor the Admissions Office would comment on whether Penn has a standard procedure for dealing with incidents where admitted students face legal charges.
He was charged with four Class A misdemeanors, including simple assault and domestic violence. He has since been released on $6,000 bail. A trial date is expected to be set for sometime in early August, according to a family member of the accuser.
The Hillegass family relative and Good would likewise not identify Hopper’s enrollment status or reveal any details of his correspondence with Penn.
After the initial complaint was filed to the school disciplinary board, the school turned over the case to the Concord Police Department, the relative said. According to New Hampshire court documents, the police arrested Hillegass in April.
He did not participate as an active member of his high school rowing team this year, and did not attend school for most of the spring semester, the relative said.
Meanwhile, the accuser — whose name was not released because she is still a minor — filed a restraining order against Hillegass, which went into effect on April 8. The order mandated a 300-feet distance between Hillegass and the accuser, which was later decreased to 100-feet.
Hillegass maintains that the incident was accidental and he never intended to hurt her. A family member of the accuser, however, stated that the police have reason to believe Hillegass hurt the accuser intentionally. While the family member refused to comment further, citing the need to protect the ongoing legal process, he emphasized that the local police have brought the charges against Hillegass, not the accuser.
At Hillegass’ bail hearing in May, the Concord Monitor — a New Hampshire newspaper — reported that the accuser’s father described backlash in the school due to the accusations brought against Hillegass.
“He said the fallout from her coming forward has been nearly as traumatic as the assault itself,” the Monitor reported.
Hillegass’ relative disputes this characterization, instead suggesting that the accuser had “psychological issues” that “are unfortunately going to have to come to light” at trial.
A source, who identified himself only as another parent at St. Paul’s, disagreed, saying that “the girl is really lovely” and has shown no signs of mental health issues.
The Hillegass family relative admitted that Hopper has had bouts of illness while at school. He said that Hopper had two concussions while at St. Paul’s, including a brain bleed while he was a freshman.
News Editor Caroline Simon contributed reporting to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.