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. terry

    um.... CULT!

    September 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John

    The folks at Gillette Razors have a job waiting for you......

    September 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sarah

    Good, period. Abuse is not acceptable in any shape or form in any society.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philadelphia

    Beat someone up - slap on the wrist.

    Beat them up because you "hate" them, life in prison.

    Makes sense.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solitairedog

      Yes, it does, and I'm all for it!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nokoolaidcowboy

    Were they cutting beards off their babes too?

    September 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mississippi Mullet

    Religion poisons everything.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cando

      And laws were made to be broken?

      September 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alyssa

    At least it's just hair and it does grow back. It's not like they were branded.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solitairedog

      No, just beaten, bruised, cut, shaved to the skin, and shamed by someone whose religion they had rejected. How would you feel if a Muslim had done that to you when you refused to worship in their mosque?

      September 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alyssa

    I wonder if the men will have to shave their beards in jail?

    September 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scott

    Portland Tony... it appears you did not get the whole story
    They didn't ask them to sit in a barber chair and ask them if they wanted a shave and a haircut
    They beat them, cut them made them bleed and forcibly shaved them to humilate them in context to their religous beliefs

    September 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      I think I mentioned "assault and battery" which by most interpretations doesn't mean getting a "shave and a haircut" for two bits :)

      September 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cal

    The guys name is mullet. And he's giving people.... hehe, rad.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BlindSquirrel

    Ok, I don't mean to be insensitive here, nor do I want to say that this doesn't matter at all....but the LEAD STORY?!

    This just in...hair grows back.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. obRay

    As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain I take a look at my wife and realize she's very plain. But that's perfect for an Amish like me. You know I shun fancy things like electricity. At 4:30 in the morning I'm milking cows, Jedediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows... Fool. And I've been milking and plowing so long that even Ezikeal thinks that my mind is gone. I'm a man of the land I'm into discipline. Got a bible in my hand and a beard on my chin.... When will this Amish on Amish hate stop?

    September 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      If you're posting on the internet, you've already been shunned. And grow up.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mick

    Amazing...we find the Amish guilty of hate crimes amongst themselves...but we don't accept that hate against others in the world is hate?

    September 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. George

    This dude looks like a relative of that new species of monkey they just discovered.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      we were in amish country last year for the covered bridges century and the amish in that area certainly did have an in-bred look.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ron B.

    I love that the leaders name is Mullet! This is like a saturday night live skit and its not a hate crime, It's a hair crime. This is just hilarious and should not be a lead story on any news outlet.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • cobracat

      It's a good thing YOU don't get to decide what news I receive.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
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