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. Portland tony

    It's gonna cost $18M to keep these guys locked for 18 years....Worth it Taxpayers?

    September 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. St. Xavier

    All people are different in many ways religion being just one way. Some men will make up their own rules to govern-en there followers behavior using GOD laws but it's really not GODS law there using it's laws designed to fit a perverted way of life dominating. REMEMBER the JONES CULT some years back. I all ways believe GOD is a LOVING GOD an doesn't ask his followers to kill or hurt.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. StayinAlive

    17 years in prison for cutting off someone's beard or hair?? American justice is a crime.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Autonomous

      The victims were quote, “(The attackers) sheared them almost like animals, leaving them bloodied, bruised and beaten,” So your saying that 17yrs is to long of a prison sentence. False arrest, injuring and mentally scaring. Well what is a proper prision sentence for these men?

      September 21, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Bozo

      someone who forcibly cuts off someones beard should be punished severely.

      Sincerely,

      Bozo

      September 21, 2012 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
    • SmarterThanYou

      So American Justice is a crime and yet other countries allow burning, murdering of ambassadors, and looting because someone showed a picture of a religious figure. You are being ignorant and hypocritical.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Seamusgirl

      Does reading make your head sad? The criminals (and dont even think they arent) are guilty of HOME INVASION and putting their drty meathooks on peeopl as well as ASSAULT them . Oh boo hoo, 17 yr is too much...maybe you are too young to remember Jim Jones, Slappy. He had former members of his cult assaulted and threatened –no one did a bless-ed thing thing about it. Google what eventually happened to his "flock"...so if you think this is minor then maybe you think its funny to drown kitties. THINK ABOUT IT!!! They would go after their CHILDREN next!

      September 21, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. James

    If it's a legitimate beard attack, the Amish body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gets it

      Holly crap that is funny!

      September 21, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Funny, and topical.

      September 24, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nancy Johnson

    Those who commented here obviously don't know any Amish people. I do. /this was a hate crime. They were brutal attacks. Amish men begin growing their beards when they marry. Amish women NEVER cut their hair. Both have great religious significance for Amish people. These attacks were done brutally and caused horror in the Amish community. Before those of you making jokes about this crime make comments, do a little research, if your narrow minds are capable of putting a couple of thoughts together.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cooper

    Anyone else see the irony in a hair cutting cult with a leader named Mullet?

    September 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cogitoergosum

    I hope they have to serve in the general population to do their time. And that they get their beards cut and head shaved before they shower.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Guest

    Attacking other people who point out that your family cult following has deviated from the normal Amish traditions? This is America, not Pakistan!
    I hope these extremists are all kept in jail long enough for the victims to regain a sense of peace.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ashleigh Kirk

    A number of comments on this site seem to support the criminals and their hate crimes.....Just saying......

    September 21, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. True Hate Crimes

    Knowing a member of your church or organization is raypeing boys and not calling the police.
    I would incl. girls, but when was the last time you heard of a priest raypeing a girl or an assistant football coach who got away with rayping girls for 20 years?

    September 21, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
    • And....

      I've read about all of those things, because I read a LOT, and I also know how dear you hold this topic to your heart, so why say anything when it's not going to be listened to?

      September 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. True Hate Crimes

    Those who hate and/or verbally assault parents who refuse to allow their children to mingle with certain groups of people known to be maintaining risky lifestyles and knowingly spreading HIV. (needlesharers, gotcha)

    September 21, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      you sure inserted a lot of irrelevant crap into this story. I did mot read about children or hiv in any of the reports on this hate crime. Sounds like you have a gay child and your angry.
      Sucks to be you

      September 21, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • And....

      Teaching a child to hate other people makes you just as guilty of hate crimes as this dude. Shame on you.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bannish ALL organized religions

    Imagine a group of men who enforce wearing a beard or a burka...other groups of men listening to each other tell stories of raypeing children yet never calling the police.
    These men are religious leaders and are criminals who hide their crimes behind our seperation of Church and State, that was never neant to be used to conceal crimes.
    Bannish these filthy rich organized groups of men (and in some cases, women leaders) But make them pay taxes on fleeded flock profits first. ty

    September 21, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bannish ALL organized religions

    *fleeced flock profits, rather.
    The Holy See pope's bedroom slippers cost 5,000 dollars, yet 11 Roman Catholic archdiocese have filed for ch. 13 bancruptcy protection. Bancrupted by court orders to pay millions of dollars to settle malpractice lawsuits won by boy victim's families.
    BANNISH these organizations of idiots.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bannish ALL organized religions

    *malpractice. These religious leaders are paid well to practice God's law and teach it to our children, NOT practice immitating a gay man sodomizing a younger male. MALPRACTICE. (maliciously practicing on boys)

    September 21, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. Eliot Spitzer

    next he will shave the bush of pubic hair

    September 21, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
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