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. macthek9

    On the severity scale of 1-10, 10 being the most severe and grizzly, I call the a NEGATIVE 10. Serious stuff!...

    September 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleh

      Severe and grizzly? What does a bear have to do with this?

      September 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny

    that is a completely true and verified story about Mitt Romney by the way. it was all over the news a few months ago.

    funny how we forgive "frat boy antics" like that....

    September 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. buffalo

    Did he give them...GASP!...mullets? Oh, the horror!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MarlboroMan

    Amish men using battery-powered clippers...dang progressives.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rev. Cleo

    Why is this funny? Next thing you know the other group will do a drive by in a wagon.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. x

    well, your honor, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stephen Malkmus

    Darllin' don't you go and cut your hair.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jack

    Seriously?!?!? This is breaking news? At least one person DIES in my city every night. You think THAT would be breaking news. #ATL

    September 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn of the North

      If someone dies every night in your area, it's hardly news anymore.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dogbert

    Was he just cutting the front and sides short, but leaving it long in the back?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. midogs2

    The gene pool seems rather shallow amongst the eastern Ohio Amish.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Perry

    It was hard not to laugh at this HATE crime. Did he cut the women's beards?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Smukers

    This is really, really interesting, because, we have here a "non-violent sect" committing a "hate crime" against other "non-violent persons". Wow – what's next with the Amish? They are becoming intolerant as the Muslims.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jack Be Humble

    Mr. Romney can't recall the specific incident. So it must not have happened. Do not google Mitt Romney Hair, nothing to see here or there.

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

    Destroy hate crime evidences.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ztom

    Hang him high!

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