Amish leader, 15 followers convicted of hate crimes in beard attacks
Samuel Mullet Sr. is one of 16 Amish charged with federal hate crimes in last year's beard-cutting attacks.
September 20th, 2012
03:27 PM ET

Amish leader, 15 followers convicted of hate crimes in beard attacks

Sixteen members of a breakaway Amish community in rural eastern Ohio, including its leader, were convicted of federal hate crimes Thursday for the forcible cutting of Amish men's beards and Amish women's hair.

Sam Mullet Sr. and the 15 followers were found guilty of conspiracy to violate federal hate-crime law in connection with what authorities said were the religiously motivated attacks on several fellow Amish people last year.

The verdicts were read in U.S. District Court in Cleveland following several days of jury deliberation and a trial that began in late August, a U.S. attorney's office said.

Prosecutors said the 15 followers, at Mullet's instruction, shaved the beards and cut the hair of Amish people who had left his group over various religious disagreements. Five attacks happened in four Ohio counties between September and November 2011, authorities said.

To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood, and the way Amish women wear their hair also is a symbol of faith, authorities said.

The assaults violated the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which "prohibits any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person," according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

November 1, 2011: CNN goes inside Mullet's compound

August 27, 2012: Hate crimes trial against Amish begins

While the charges can carry a sentence of up to life in prison, the judge can choose any length, and the federal guidelines in this case is probably about 17.5 years, said Mike Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Mullet, a bishop of a group living on a compound outside Bergholz in eastern Ohio, wanted to "seek revenge and punish the departing families," according to an FBI affidavit filed before the trial. The attackers, using scissors and battery-powered clippers, injured their victims as well as others who tried to stop the attacks, prosecutors said.

“(The attackers) sheared them almost like animals, leaving them bloodied, bruised and beaten," U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach told reporters Thursday. "These were no mere haircuts. These were violent attacks ... (leaving victims) so shaken and scared that they felt compelled to call on local law enforcement.”

Usually, the Amish resolve disputes without involving law enforcement, but some Amish members reported the beard-cutting incidents to police last fall.

Mullet’s group, which had broken away from a larger Amish community, is made up primarily of his relatives living on and around an 800-acre compound in a remote valley outside Bergholz.

The jury also convicted various groupings of defendants with separate assaults, and Mullet and Lester Mullet with concealing or attempting to conceal items of evidence, including a camera and pictures of the attacks, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The 16 defendants were:  Samuel Mullet Sr., 66; Johnny S. Mullet, 39; Daniel S. Mullet, 38; Levi F. Miller, 54; Eli M. Miller, 32; Emanuel Shrock; Lester Miller, 37; Raymond Miller, 27; Freeman Burkholder, 31; Anna Miller; Linda Shrock; Lester Mullet; Elizabeth A. Miller; Emma J. Miller; Kathryn Miller; and Lovina Miller, 32.

All live in Bergholz, except for Raymond Miller, Burkholder, Elizabeth Miller and Kathryn Miller, who are of Irondale, Ohio; and Lester Mullet, who is of Hammondsville, Ohio.

– CNN's Jason Hanna, Mallory Simon,Tricia Escobedo, Chuck Johnston, Alan Duke and Chris Welch contributed to this report.

soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. Pete

    A guy named Mullet is charged with criminally cutting hair?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justice for ALL

      I am glad that this guy was convicted. What he did was wrong and I am glad that they stood up to him and sought justice. I know they dont usually go to the law they handle things internal but in this instance I think this was the only REAL choice for them to get true justice.... Kudos for their courage!!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justice for ALL

      Oh... and the name thing.... REALLY FUNNY!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • regenesis0

      I feel bad for laughing.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • hazyjoe

      ZING!

      ...assuming your comment was a joke

      September 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rafael

    Alright, now how about Willard?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Mitt Romney must be proud of this guy. This guy likes to cut people's beard and Romney likes to cut people's hair and their jobs.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      how did this become about politics?

      September 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      Because by this decision, Rmoney committed a hate crime by forcibly cutting the hair off a gay man in college. That's how.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      "how did this become about politics?" If it was a story about a man who strapped his dog to the roof of his car, would you expect us to let that pass as well?

      September 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RunfortheHills

    I'd never willingly let a guy named "Mullet" cut my hair, either.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hal Atosis

    Does anyone else find his last name ironic in relation to this story?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. blahblah

    Mullet should be sentenced to wearing a mullet. And no Rumspringa either.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DC

    Why can't people just leave other people the hell alone?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xira

      I'd ask the same question of Amerikan cops.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      "Xira" Get lost, kid. The grownups are talking here.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleh

      Psst...it's spelled A M E R I C A N.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    Shave Mullet's mullet. Only fair.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. blahblah

    An eye for an eye, a follicle for a follicle.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Will

    Wonder if he can fight taliban

    September 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Smyth

    This is a "hate crime", but the military doesn't think so when an enlisted guy stands up and kills fellow soldiers while shouting "ALLAH Akbar" crap.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Camaro Crash Helmet

    I think this gentleman has a mullet on his face.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just passing by

      hahaha... soo good!

      September 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      He's got a face like a mullet fish.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. blahblah

    Where's Edward Scissorhands when you need him...

    September 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna M

      Good one...lmaf

      September 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Camaro Crash Helmet

    Kentucky Watefall

    September 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Camaro Crash Helmet

    Business in the front, party in the back

    September 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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