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. Camaro Crash Helmet

    Hockey Hair

    September 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. S-Hug

    He shouldn't do that — it's what the English would do.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mitt Romney - Hair Cutter & Animal Abuser

    Perhaps Americans can see passed Mitt's rhetoric and see what kind of man he is. He and a bunch of college friends held a class mate down and cut his long bleached hair. Apparently the kid was terrified. It was a big joke to Romney. He was just having fun!!!! Oh yeah... Boys will be Boys... Kind of like Mitt tying his dog to the roof of his car.... He obviously has no regard for others. If you can't do something for Mitt, you're not important.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidLevinsn

      Move along, troll...nothing to see here

      September 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Profit

      Is that true? I'm looking this up elsewhere. I'm sure Mitt Romney would never do these things.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alvin Tostig

      Reportedly they did it because they thought the young man might be gay. That really wasn't a nice thing to do regardless of his age. We were all young once, but that is no excuse for being mean.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      They guy they did that to commit suicide a few years back... So you see, those incidents have dramatic impacts on peoples lives... As for the guy with the troll comment.. you move along troll !

      September 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Be Humble

      Doug – he died of cancer in 2004, do your research.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sigmania

    What's with the beard being sign of faith. Maybe the Koran and amish follow the same diety.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • nystar

      In case you did not read properly..its a sign of manhood

      September 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • muslim2012

      well jesus and moses (PBUH) both had beards,"The hair of the chin showed him to be a man." St Clement of Alexandria (c.195, E), 2.271
      "How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!...For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest—a sign of strength and rule." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275

      September 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • KC

      Yes it is in the old testament,which is by the way Judeo christian,meaning the Torah. Also the Quran is very similar. So What we are talking about are religions that are a minimum of 1500 years ago

      September 21, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    I'm telling ya...that newly-found monkey with glasses...

    Seriously, what the heck is wrong with people?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. blake

    Why is this breaking news?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    In unrelated news, Mr. Beard has been found guilty of cutting off people's mullets.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pager710

    look, its ZZ top!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    Sorry, I can't get past the last name, Mullet, in this story. Anyway, what a weirdo.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Mullet: party in the back. hate crime in the front.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Slappy_McGiggles

    When an Amish leader gets convicted for a hate crime, the end of the world can't be to far off!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Billy Ray Cyrus

    He needed the hair for his raging mullet

    September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ruth

    Anyone else find the irony in the story? His last name is MULLET!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steven B.

    I'm sorry, but someone with the name MULLET forcing the cutting of the hair of others is humorously ironic.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Mullet: party in the back. hate crime in the front.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    It didn't take long for the jury to review the evidence and "mullet" over!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn of the North

      Yuk yuk! That's a knee slapper!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Park

    Does anyone else find it ironic that a man named Mullet was forcibly giving other people haircuts?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
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