Update: On January 31, 2023, the Municipal Court of Philadelphia found that the individual accused of engaging in the alleged assault described in this article, Nicholas Hamilton, was not guilty of any misconduct. Further details of the DP’s coverage of that individual’s exoneration can be found here.
Correction: A previous version of the article stated that Nicholas Hamilton is a Wharton junior when in fact he is a College junior. There is a Nick Robert Hamilton in The Wharton School who has no connection with this story. A previous version of the article also stated the victim was transported to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania when in fact it was Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. The DP regrets the errors.
A Penn sophomore sustained serious injuries after he was attacked by a Psi Upsilon fraternity brother at a party at their chapter house earlier this month, prompting a University investigation into the matter.
According to a witness of the assault, College junior Nicholas Hamilton punched the victim – who is not affiliated with Psi Upsilon, also known as “Castle” – between 10 to 20 times during a Sept. 4 party, while other Castle brothers looked on and did not intervene. The same witness said that after Hamilton punched the victim until he appeared to be partially unconscious, two other Castle brothers carried the victim out of the house. Later that night, the victim was transported via ambulance to the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
The assault, which took place at the fraternity’s on-campus house on 36th and Locust streets, was recorded in the Division of Public Safety’s Clery Crime log. Medical records obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian show that the victim was first diagnosed with a concussion and assault at Penn Presbyterian and later diagnosed with a head injury and orbital trauma at Student Health Service.
“The Office of Student [Conduct] is currently investigating. DPS is very much aware of [the incident],” Vice President for Public Safety and Superintendent of Penn Police Maureen Rush told the DP on Sept. 9.
DPS Senior Associate Director of Digital Media & Design Stacy Ritchey denied the DP a copy of the police report, stating that it is only accessible to people involved in the incident.
University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy and Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tamara L. Greenfield King both declined to comment on whether Castle or Hamilton will face consequences from Penn. Interfraternity Council VP of Community Relations Sasha Morledge also declined to comment, citing privacy reasons.
The DP reached out to Hamilton and six other Castle members, none of whom responded to a request for comment.
The victim, the victim's brother, and the witness, who is a College sophomore, spoke to Penn Police on Sept. 4 and showed an officer a photo of Hamilton, according to the victim’s brother and the witness. Both the brother and the witness added that the officer checked the victim’s knuckles, and noted that they were not red or bruised, suggesting that the victim did not fight back.
The victim declined to comment, citing concerns about possible legal proceedings. The brother and witness requested anonymity due to their close relationship with the victim.
It is unclear if Castle or Hamilton have faced any repercussions since the assault. As of yet, no arrest has been made, according to the Clery Crime log.
According to the witness, who entered the party with the victim and was standing next to him at the time of the assault, the victim entered the Castle house at around 1 a.m. on Sept. 4 and was standing on a platform in the chapter room for approximately five to 10 minutes when Hamilton approached him. The witness, who is a College sophomore, said Hamilton shoved the victim multiple times, prompting the victim to raise his hands and audibly say that he would leave the house. Hamilton then proceeded to punch the victim, who did not fight back, until he appeared to partially lose consciousness, the College sophomore said.
“I was so terrified,” she said, adding that the victim was “slumped over and looked like life had just been beaten out of him” when two Castle brothers carried him out of the house.
The College sophomore said when she tried to block Hamilton’s shoves by standing in between him and the victim, Hamilton shoved her so aggressively that her bracelet fell off.
She added that multiple Castle brothers at the party watched the assault happen but did not try to stop it. She said she suspects that race played a role in the attack. The victim and his brother are both Peruvian.
“No one did anything. It seems like it’s just this cultish environment – that you have to be loyal to your brothers, even though they're making racist attacks,” the witness said. “I don’t think this would have happened to a white student.”
The victim’s brother, a Penn student who was also present at the party but who did not witness the assault, told the DP that he also suspects race played a factor in the incident. He said that he previously had a disagreement with Hamilton after Hamilton allegedly made racist comments about South Africa, Hamilton’s home country, during a Castle rush event at an off-campus apartment in January 2021.
The day after the January rush event, the victim’s brother described the disagreement in an email to top administrators, including Penn President Amy Gutmann and Wharton Dean Erika James, “denouncing racism.”
The victim’s brother wrote in the email that the conversation included remarks from Hamilton such as, “I want to leave South Africa because it is full of Black people,” and that he experienced “microaggressions when [he] attempted to correct those racist behaviors.”
The victim’s brother also alleged that Hamilton made racially charged comments towards him and his brother at another Castle event in January, including remarks such as, “Of course you guys are both Peruvian. At least you’re not Ecuadorian.”
Both the victim’s brother and the witness added that they are shocked and upset by the incident, which has made them rethink whether they are truly safe on Penn’s campus. A friend of the victim’s said that the victim has frequently used Penn Police escorts to get around campus ever since the incident, as he fears for his own safety.
Staff reporter Kevin Bryan contributed reporting.