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. Mickey1313

    Asult, ya. Hate crime, no way. Toys hate crime stuff had gone to far.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. government cheese

    Why isn't black on black crime a hate crime?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Informer

      While i get that you are being facetious, I'll answer your question. From my understanding, a hate crime extends to crimes motivated by actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin. With that being said, there are instances in which black-on-black crime is a hate crime. However, in most instances black-on-black crime is motivated by other aspects than the ones listed above. You're welcome. Have a nice day. 🙂

      September 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ztom

    Give Mullet cornrows before they put him in the general population.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. The Dude

    Wait, they used battery powered clippers? hmmmmm I think something is Amish....

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


      September 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbo

      Amish! Ahahahahahaha!!!!1

      September 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • NWFChic

      something amish.... hehehe, that one made me LOL!

      September 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna M

      Very cvlever! LMAO....even after typing this comment...still laughing

      September 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lee

    Why wasn't Mitt Romney prosecuted for forcible assaulting and cutting the hair of the younger gay kid after arranging a gang to hold him down in his last year of prep school?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • box of kittens

      why not go back in time and ask the D.A.?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      lee: FYI–Did you know that, while at Bain, one of the employee's daughters went missing in NYCand Mitt shut down Bain, gathered several employees, took them to NYC, found the girl, then went back to Bain. Romney will be prez.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. daveinkc

    "Thee had no idea that prisons had such modern conveniences – a flushing commode – who knew?"

    September 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James from Canada

    iI have an idea.. let's fill the middle east with the Amish. The worst hate crimes there will be diminished to beard cuttings. We would never have to worry about them hijacking a plane or suicide bombings.. They are to technologically inept to do anything like it =P.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. zandhcats

    So many hate crimes, some of them are no different from the religious extremists.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Darw1n


    September 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Huh

    Did we just WASTE TAX PAYER MONEY because of some forced hair cuts? ARE YOU KIDDING? THE FBI "was on the case?" BUT the FBI will ignore lawyers commiting fraud and stealing legal rights from Pro Se victims. WHAT A MESS FOLKS. IT IS BECOMING ESSENTIAL that we make it illegal for lawyers to sit in legislative and exective branches of government. They're stealing everything... and making "names for themselves" prosecuting The Amish. You can't write this stuff.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    Hopefully they all get haircuts and a shave when they get to the federal pen.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AmishMadman

    "Leave and I'll cut your hair!" That's a warning! LOL This is a joke right?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ross

    Seriously??? His name is Mullet? Oh, that's sweet 🙂

    September 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Question

    Why isn't lawyer crime against fathers a crime?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sivi

    what a bad comb-over

    September 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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