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. ginger315

    Hopefully he/they will be made to cut their beards before entering prison–what a fitting punishment.

    September 23, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Doodlebug2222

    I find it sincerely sad that men that were stood for devoutness and claims to live the simple life for the efforts of fullfilling a higher calling – lost themselves to petty emotions such as... what lead them to do what they did.

    I hope one day they can see their slow spiral into losing who they once were... Many think the world is so very large and big – you are sure to be lost in it – but these men proved you can also be lost in a forest – when you follow the guide – who is lost but so very sure – they know the right path. We can see that he did not – and he took all of his kin down this same road of hatred.

    September 23, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. kelly

    When Romney was a high school student, he bullied a younger, smaller gay boy and cut off his hair. Is that not a hate crime?

    September 23, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. My.T. Quinn

    Convictions like this make my heart sing!
    (It's too bad we've outlawed public horsewhipping.)

    September 25, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ed T Duck

    Mullet and Miller- not all related. I guess the gene pool is small in the Amish community huh.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kamarasune

    Well now that the federal government got a broad brush to call just about anything a "federal hate crime" we can all feel soo much more safe. Next they will be locking up kids for spit-balls.....

    October 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. East Coast

    You read this and yet children are committing suicide from bullies which communities and schools do nothing about. Lovely.

    October 8, 2012 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. waynebob

    His name is Mullet? Gotta wonder what style haircut he inflicted on his victims.........

    October 14, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. Evil Villians Is Lemons

    He should have is beard on the back of his head, tee hee , sam mullet!!!!N!! XD

    October 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joel Zimmerman


    October 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Crapola Horkshower


    October 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Crapola Horkshower


    October 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kyle D.

    It still makes me laugh (even though I feel bad for the Amish community). The irony of a guy named Mullet, cutting someone elses hair

    October 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20