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. what about the children?

    If you lock-up 15 Amish, think of the 1000's of children that will be without a father?

    September 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • yneemee

      At least they would not all be on welfare like the people who regularly appear on the Jerry Springer/Maury Povich or who vote on the demokrat plantation.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jtucker4


      September 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike R.

      No. That's a Mormon or Catholic, not Amish.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • nadinesh

      hey dmbass, the Amish are not polygamous.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      You're thinking of the Mormons, not the Amish.

      September 20, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vo

    What people will do in the name of God! What a crock!

    September 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Doug

    How absolutely outrageous .. Here in Portland there was a gay guy attacked and called a f@Rgot repeatedly, they said it was not a hate crime, then there was a bunch of black girls that attacked a white girl on the Max and called her all kinds of defaming names for being white, they found no evidence to prosecute for a hate crime.. And here comes some religious nut jobs and they charge them with hate crimes.. What I see here is this law is only used when they feel like using it.. This is not how laws work... As for the nuts here, Religion is the most evil force on this planet !

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

      What exactly are you complaining about?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke

      Your point ?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yneemee

    If this was a Muslim doing this, there would be riots in the streets... Obama would be apologizing or blaming Bush and CNN would trot out their usual inane coverage

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

      That's great! so right.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • And.... win the award for most irelevant post that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kim

    I live in the heart of Amish country, Lancaster county, Pa. Beards are grown as a sing of commitment to their religion, never to be trimmed. The same goes for women not cutting their hair. To have that violated is horrendous for them. It is rare that they will actually involve the law for help, but in this case it was obviously needed as the attacks were so severe. The women who had their hair cut I can tell you right now, suffered humiliation worse than I can put into words. The men would have been humiliated to be seen like that also, but would have been much more stoic. It should be said that control freaks like Mullet actually regularly make their rounds even here, telling others how to live and run their lives. But Mullet went beyond what anyone here wold do. He had to be stopped.

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

      For someone else, this may have been a home invasion, assault, and haircutting. But for an Amish person, it is like burning a cross in their front yard. The reason the Mullet Mafia chose hair/beard cutting for their revenge is because of the deep religious symbolism it holds for the Amish. It was no accident.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ChristoInferno

    Isn't this pretty much the same thing Mitt Romney did to that kid in prep school?

    September 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brad76

    17 years to life because he cut off peoples beards? Wow lol.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke

      The crime is the motivation of the attacks, not the attacks per se. It is a hate crime.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • nadinesh

      well they didn't get 17 years - yet. And they may not. But they did violently assault these people and seriously humiliated them, and they do deserve to be taken seriously as people who will get violent over a religious dispute, so I have no problem with them getting serious prison sentences. I don't want some nutjob stalking me and threatening me for my beliefs.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • wildone

      You didn't read the whole story, did you. It was not "just" cutting their beards off. It was violently using animal clippers and assaulting them. Maybe somebody ought to hold you down an cut your hair off with a pair of sheep shears and we'll see how you like it.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Man

      Trolls are next on our list. We got the one on the ESPN blog and have him in on $1 million bail. Now were going after the rest, and we won't rest until they all get 17 to life. And for those of you who think that prison is a walk-in-the park with free food, clothing, and shelter...try it some time. We're happy to add you to the Troll List.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      @The Man, there is one here who constantly ruins the blogs...if you can get this one off we'd be much obliged.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SB1790

    I'm trying to picture an Amish person in prison. It may not be the first time but I'm sure it's a rare occurrence.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rhondajo3

    All violent crimes are motivated by hate! All murders are driven by hate!

    September 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wrong Again

      Plenty of murders are committed for profit or financial gain. It's the second oldest profession after all...

      September 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EddieHaskell

    Convict Al Sharpton first!!!! I dare you!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. THX1953

    Permanent Laser Hair Removal for all that were convicted.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Man

    Well, stupid, I guess we convicted you of "cutting beards" after all. Don't bend over for the soap!

    September 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    Samuel Mullet looks like the taint of human genetics.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chalie

    Amish Akbar! : )

    September 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. a slozomby

    Sam Mullet convicted of crimes involving hair. go figure.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
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