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. KB

    17 years for assault and cutting hair? I taught in a high school where 17 year-olds could stab other students and hold up numerous local businesses at gunpoint and still be out of detention and back in school within three months, in time for prom. One I had in class got a job at the local Lowe's.

    And we're supposed to teach kids to respect our country's justice system? Yes, those 16 convicted sound extreme and hateful in their actions, but comon. 17 years? I'll bet they didn't have a jury of their own peers. If they had had a jury of their own Mullet community peers, then it might be poetic justice.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. AF

    Welcome to the Amish under Obamacare!

    September 21, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sharp

    This is typical of the religion obsessed. Taliban, These Amish or certain Christians; They are all so blinded that any atrocity is viewed as a good thing. That is why we have freedom of religion in America.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      Amish and Mennonites are Hutterite Christians, who believe society entangles people and takes them away from God and nature. Generally they are good people with a slightly apocalyptic outlook.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Ganshorn

      To all, this is not the Amish faith of tolerance and non violence. This is a sad controlled cult within the true Amish faith. They will never comment, do not want their picture taken or their lifestyle made to seem "peculiar" by those who have never sat in their grandfather's parlor, as I have, with the wonderful non violent people who are Amish. I wish most of the world were these people, because were it so, the polar icecaps would not be melting. Feel free to be disgusted with sixteen people but do not denigrate a small and remarkably non violent faith. These people were living a sustainable lifestyle before anyone had invented the phrase.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • y3dawgs

      @robert ganshorn – I have to disagree – the world would not be better place if everyone were like the Amish. I've seen the atrocities and horrible abuse and cruelty that takes place in the Amish puppy mills.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      Abusing their women and incestuous relations with their girls are two more that are not talked about. Although this is far from the norm, it exists.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Seamusgirl

    Am I the only person disturbed that this guy looks way to much like Lloyd Bridges?

    September 21, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. x

    It should be required before you can cut someone else's beard/hair you should first trim your own.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. fern

    17 years. Let's see. Mitt Romney would have been 34 if he would have had to spend that time in prison for cutting a gay student's hair in high school. Unfortunately for that Amish guy it might be too late to run for president when he gets out.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      Mitt was in college when he did that; his dad's money wouldn't have helped him much in high school.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. Deacdes of keeping it a secret

    That religious leaders have been raypeing children for decades is not disputed. We KNOW because hundreds have been caught.
    However, what's even more alarming is the fact that these religious leaders knew of each others crimes, and even if not involved in the crime, refused to report these heinous crimes to the police...for decades.
    This will eventually mean the end of organized religion as we know it today. Not even the second richest organization on earth (Roman Catholic Church) can afford to pay for damages done. (see 8:22AM post)
    From becoming filthy rich off of fleeced flocks and not paying taxes to keeping child raypers a secret, todays organized religions simply can't afford to pay for what they have done, and are falling as a result.
    "Get out from among them if you do not wish to become sharers with them in their sins and in their crimes."-your bible

    September 21, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim01

      Thanks for staying on-topic and posting something relevent to the current article. /sarcasm.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Deacdes of keeping it a secret

    " their sins and in their destruction."-rather 🙂

    September 21, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Curly

    20 years for beard-cutting? It was wrong what they did, but the taxes we will pay for 20 years for this? Seems like a mere year or two would have been sufficient for such a heinous crime.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • binny

      Did you read carefully? It was not "just" cutting their beards and hair. They were bruised and bleeding- it was an ATTACK, not a prank.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kristysgodmother

    How many years did Mitt R. get when he forceably cut someone's hair?

    September 21, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. tolerance

    According to accounts of his activities kept by the founders of the christian religion (ex jews)Jesus Christ did NOT teach religious tolerance or the tolerating of those who greedily break God's laws.
    Jesus taught love. And it was loving of him to make a whip out of tent chords and drive greedy jew lawbreakers out, calling them "offspring of snakes". NOT tolerant.
    Jesus loved people, even prost itutes. He didn't, however, love what some people do. He didn't teach toleration of law breaking individuals or law breaking organizations. He exposed them so that those who had put their faith in these men might see by the light of The Word rather than the darkness of these men.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. bobcat (in a hat)©

    n Amishman lived on a quiet, rural highway. But, as time went by, the traffic slowly built up at an alarming rate. It became so heavy and so fast that his chickens were being run over at a rate of three to six a day. So he called the sheriff's office and said, "You've got to do something about all of these tourists driving so fast and killing all of my chickens."

    "What do you want me to do?" asked the sheriff.

    "I don't care, just do something about these drivers."

    So the next day the sheriff had the county go out and put up a sign that said: SLOW: SCHOOL CROSSING. Three days later, the Amishman again called the sheriff and said, "That sign didn't help a bit. They are still hitting my chickens."

    So the next day, the county put up a sign that said: SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY.

    Again, no change. So the Amishman called and called, every day for three weeks. Finally, he told the sheriff, "Look, your signs are just not working. Mind if I put up one of my own?"

    The sheriff told him, "Sure thing, let's see if yours works better."

    He was willing to agree to anything to get him to stop those daily calls. Well, the sheriff got no more calls from the Amishman. After three weeks, he decided to call the Amishman and see how things were going.

    "Did you put up your sign?"

    "Oh, I sure did. And not one chicken has been killed since. I've got to go. I'm very busy." And he hung up the phone.

    The sheriff thought to himself, "I'd better go have a look at that sign. There might be something there that WE could use to slow down drivers..."

    So the sheriff drove out to the Amishman's house, and he saw the sign. It was on a whole sheet of plywood. Written in large, yellow letters were the words: SLOW: NUDIST COLONY.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. tolerance

    "Blind guides" is what Jesus Christ called the prominant religious leaders of his day. Obviously, men like the High Priest of the Jews, Joseph Caiaphas, could see Jesus Christ and hear him. So Jesus was obviously speaking of them being spiritually blind and not qualified to lead those hungering for truth and righteousness.
    It is the same with todays religious leaders who are like "The blind leading the blind. Both fall into a pit" Jesus spoke of long ago.
    It is none other than the light of dos's Word Jesus Christ that is exposeing these things that have been kept secret for so many years.
    "There is NOTHING carefully concealed that will not be fully revealed."-The Word

    September 21, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Obama Mama

    Cut his beard and hair. Isn't it standard procedure to cut it off in prison for lice reasons?

    September 21, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Hi, Obama Mama.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Not only that, he is also going to associate with "The English", which may be even more offensive to his narrow views. He may be able to keep his beard, though, due to the federal statutes requiring the folks who run prisons to not do anything that could cause religious offense. Sort of ironic considering their crime was based on offending people because of their religion.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dbw

    I think he looks like Woody Allen

    September 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
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