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. Dan

    It will grow back.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael

    Cirlot Hair(body-hair) Hairs.Some religions used to prescribe tatal depilation. There are some trditions in which the hair of the head as well as on the body takes on a malign significance. This explains why the priest of many religions, the Egyptian among them ,shaved off all their hair. And it also explains why the god Pan-a prefiguration of the devil-was depicted with hairy legs. Wikipedia reflects the punjabi spelled panjabi consort of nymphs, phallic symbol shown with goat. Neutralized. Maybe why shiek temple killings rege rege raga raga also in etymology.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Revenge of Joe Dirt.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. eldoradosuccess

    Give 'em all a perm and nail extensions with lotsa bling. Then make 'em all register as a sect offender.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JessicaR

    Forcibly cutting a woman's hair is an act of incredible cruelty because many women feel about their hair the way men feel aboiut their genitals. Losing their hair is traumatic for many women. Why do you think these fanatics chose this form of punishment? Because they knew women would find this deeply upsetting and humiliating. This is not a joke. It is gutter meanness.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pro Death

    He looks like that cop from Barney Miller

    September 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lol

    Mock not our ways, thou sons of muddied waters, for the great one shall come forth bearing shears to cleans thy pate!

    September 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MishMash

    Well it's a good thing they didn't cut their nose-hairs – because that's where all the real spiritual activity takes place.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Enoch100

    yeah, by the looks of that there piture, he is one guilty looking muslim.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. T. Lee

    Slow day on the Middle East Riot scene CNN?

    This isn't "HEADLINE NEWS" !!!

    What are you guys DOING ????

    September 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joecop389

    Once again religion proves itself to be the curse of mankind's existence. Yet more proof that religion divides, rather than unites, people.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pierre labois

    Gotta be quite 'unreligious' to attack a man or a woman and cut their hair. If the victims had of been muslim the entire arab would have erupted and the fatwas would be flying around like beer caps at Indy500. But in the USA we all just yawn and stuff our faces and are quite disappointed in the nude kate pics...not much there to brag about.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George in Toronto

    So, Romney got off lucky when he cut forcibly cut off that gay guy's hair. It was just hijinks back then. Well, these Amish people's hijinks just landed them in prison, maybe for life. See, Romney, you are sooooooooooo lucky that you're rich.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      That's an inconvenient truth that he has conveniently forgotten about.
      Just shows how little the episode meant to him.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. czar33

    The people should get EVEN with the old-goat and the rest of the gang

    September 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • possum

      i think they just did

      September 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Josh

    He looks like Sandusky with a beard...

    September 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
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