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. Rev. Cleo

    Have the Amish attacked an embassy yet?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lathebiosas

      They are on their way in a wagon........

      September 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chocolate cupcakes

      lol... beard cutting. We should do that to the terrorists in the middle east.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      Rev.Has any Amish community been bombed or invaded or occupied by others?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      Rev with due respect.Has any Amish community been bombed or invaded or occupied by others?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      It's going to take them a while to get there by horse and buggy.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Xira

    Fascist Amerika: Only place where cutting someone's beard off is a felony.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phillip

      I'm pretty sure you have no idea what "fascism" actually means.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      Yeah, most places would give you the death penalty. Come up and yank my beard and no cop in the world will be able to save you in time.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvey

      I think hate crime convictions are used way too often and as a catch all. In this case I could see a conviction for assault and battery as being just.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Raising your hand to another person is assault. Making contact is assault and battery. It's not new, are you older than twelve ? How can you not know this ?

      September 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Pretty sure it is forbidden in Islam. Not sure what that means in terms of going to jail although violating the maxim would likely garner worse attention in fundamentalist regimes. And the beard means something in the Jewish faith amongst others as well. But sure, it is an American problem. Makes sense.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaganObservation

      It was more than just cutting someone's beard off. Yes, this was assault and battery, but there was more to it than that and it became a hate crime. Since the Amish believe that the beard and the way the women do their hair are symbols of their faith, this group went out to intentionally inflict physical, psychological, and religious humiliation upon the people they attacked because they did not believe the same way as this group. That is what classified it as a hate crime.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chemical Castration®

    Send him to jail with a Mullet haircut.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Shannon

    Not every religion is the same. These are devout people; and these customs (such as beards) mean a great deal to them. These were malicious attacks those who carried them out will get what they deserve.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. i_know_everything

    lmao, only in America

    September 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alvin Tostig

    We should like everyone. America was founded in a quest for religious freedom. The pilgrims and first European settlers came over here so they could worship as they wished. Please don't dislike someone just because they look different or have differing beliefs. Peace.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim PDX

    Rapists get less than 17.5 years...

    September 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dtboy

    So, why isn't Obama forcing religious group to provide contraceptives to its employee not a hate crime law, but cutting someone's hair off is? LOL I HATE federal hate crime laws!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      No one's being forced to 'provide' them...damn, you worked hard to be so wrong, didn't you?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      ...no one is being forced to USE them.....And this has nothing to do with the topic, dupe.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anon

    I'm curious on why the women were charged, and what role they played in the attacks. I'm fairly certain they didn't hold the men down or beat them up. Hey, I guess you never know these days.

    They probably were on the lookout, or helped plan the thing. Maybe they were driving the getaway buggies?

    September 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      The women held the other women down and helped cut their hair – they also colluded and helped to try to cover up the crimes.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MK

    Seriously???? His name is Mullet???? Someone should have seen this coming.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Oscar Pitchfork

    Sam MULLET? Are you kidding me? Man, you couldn't make thisa crap up...

    September 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dougo

    Ohhhh he can be the prison barbour

    September 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SteveG.

    The whole idea of "hate crimes" has always been a disturbing concept. Orwell's "thought crimes" has, in a way, come to fruition. More severe punishment due to the perpetrators perceived motivation and "thoughts" about the victim. In this case, it should have been a relatively simple matter of prosecuting an assault charge. What's next, "Hate Crimes Squads"? Pretty soon they will be coming after those who write "hateful" columns or blogs. The UK is already knee deep in this crap. BIg Brother is indeed watching.......and listening.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rascal Rabble

    waittah minute! the amish may have something here...i wonder if pinned down bald cuts would work with a rebellious teens...

    September 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Siggie

    So much hate, so little hair...

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