Former university student sues for alleged hate crime
Managing News Editor
Rancel Valdez, a former university student and local resident, is moving forward with a lawsuit against his four attackers and the two fraternities that hosted the party where he was assaulted and suffered a severe leg injury.
In April 2018, a fight broke out during a fraternity party hosted by Phi Gamma Delta (also known as “FIJI”) and Kappa Sigma Xi-Lambda. During the fight, Valdez was assaulted by four men, landing him in the hospital with the bone from his leg and ankle broken through the skin.
As reported by The Review, Valdez, who is openly homosexual, said he was invited to the jointly-held party on North Chapel Road. After spending a few hours in attendance, he said he went out with a friend and began to receive homophobic remarks from a few individuals — soon to be attackers.
Valdez said he raised his middle finger to one of the men, who responded by pushing Valdez to the ground. He pushed back, and the fight began, leaving Valdez with the severe injury to his leg, he said.
The assault elicited general unease and tension on campus, leading university students to hold a demonstration after the attack to bring attention to what quickly transformed into an alleged hate crime due to the nature of the assault.
On Aug. 23, following the closing of the initial trial and convictions issued to the attackers, Valdez filed a personal injury lawsuit against the two fraternities and those involved in the assaults: Nicholas Poluch, Adam Taylor, Matthew Vincenti and Daniel Weimar.
No information was immediately available on Taylor’s sentencing or probationary terms — but Vincenti and Weimar received level-one probation for six months pre-judgment, while Poluch received level-one probation for 12 months. Poluch was additionally tagged with a “zero tolerance to alcohol” policy.
Their formal judgment took place this summer.
Though Weimar pled Not Guilty, he was charged on counts of third-degree assault and conspiracy.
Vincenti also received charges for third-degree assault and conspiracy as well as mandatory completion of an anger management course.
Poluch received a charge of second-degree assault in addition to his probationary terms in tandem with the completion of an anger management course as well.
In the state of Delaware, a person would be found Guilty of assault in the third degree when the individual “intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury to another person” or “with criminal negligence the person causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.”
In Delaware, a person would be found Guilty of third-degree conspiracy when coupled with the intention to “promote or facilitate commission of a misdemeanor,” the individual “agrees with another person (…) that they or [one] or more of them will engage in conduct constituting the misdemeanor or an attempt or solicitation to commit the misdemeanor,” or if the individual “agrees to aid another person or persons in the planning or commission of the misdemeanor or an attempt or solicitation to commit the misdemeanor, and the person or another person with whom the person conspired commits an overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy.”
Conspiracy and assault in the third degree are both considered a class A misdemeanors, the most serious type of misdemeanor in Delaware that could warrant a punishment of up to “one year in jail and a fine up to $2,300.”
In the state of Delaware, a person could be found Guilty of assault in the second degree when “the person recklessly or intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person” or “the person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.”
The Delaware Criminal Code’s subchapter on specific offenses against the person additionally lists ten other possible qualifications to be charged with assault in the second degree, but only the relevant subtypes have been listed above.
Second-degree assault is considered a class D felony, which is “punishable by up to eight years in prison.”
All three men were additionally issued no-contact between them, the victim and the co-defendants that testified at the initial trial.
The lawsuit has been filed, and Valdez still has medical bills left to pay from his attack. His surgery made it harder to walk, and he suffers a reduced ability to work, walk and run.