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. czar33

    Brand all of their faces, like you brand a cow!

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

    Samuel Mullet and the others will not only be judged by those of us here on Earth who abhor violence in the name of fundamentalist religious beliefs, but they will be judged by God in the hereafter. And may God have mercy on their souls.

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

      The Amish, oh the horror. So scary, so evil, oooooooooooh!

      September 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Leonardo

    This is so bizzare.It's almost kinda funny lol

    Y'know?

    September 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Po the Panda(From Kung Fu Panda)

    I just DIED from lafter LOLOLOLOL!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. obRay

    I'm Amish. I'm just not very good at it – thus the internet comments.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimbo

    Guy sounds like a big duck. Time to cut his stupid-looking beard off.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      Whoops. Typed a "u" instead of an "i."

      September 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Terry

    The White house finally admits today that it was a terrorist attack on the consulate in Libya. Pakistan is in turmoil, burning our flag and trying to breach our embassy, and the Obama administration spends 70G worth of ads to run on Pakistani TV saying, Please like us...... it was just a bad video that we had nothing to do with, and CNN's headline is about Amish beard whackers??? Unbelievable. Anything to not have to deal with the truth about Obama.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alvin Tostig

      It's ok. Things will be alright. May you have a peaceful evening with no worries and full of happiness. Things are going to be ok. If we are nice and kind things just might turn out ok. Peace be with you.

      September 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jen S

    I'll give you a Mullet! Funny!

    Just goes to show you that any religion can have a crazy leader...

    September 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Huh?

    September 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jimbo

    You have to wonder how anyone–regardless of their fatih or ethnicity–would let a halfwit like this rule their lives. Good heavens. Grow some stones–and throw him in the goatpen, naked.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roy Ussery

    What would Jesus say? John 3:16.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    They did the right thing by cutting off those nasty beards. Good grooming is important.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corgipuppies

      Really Mike, is that all you can say! When you can walk on water let me know!

      September 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bg

      That is just whacked. I don't know how else to put it. Religious fanatics. How their brain processes reality is severely flawed.

      September 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. saggyroy

    Q: What goes clip clop BANG clip clop BANG?

    A: An Amish drive by shooting.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jimbo

    Seriously, anyone who would remain near to this evil and impotent little man should probably seek psychological help, Amish or not.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vad

    I'll bet the District Attorney in Cleveland never though in a million years that he would try a case about Amish beard cutting with a suspect named Mullet.

    You can't write this stuff.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
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