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. Camelspyder

    Wow, now we have Amish extremists. I guess the felt left out.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Compare how these Christian extremists express their outrage, compared to how Muslims express their outrage...

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

      only because they don't believe in weapons...sort of...

      September 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. VinceRN

    Life in prison as a possible sentence seems a bit over the top for shaving someone's beard, regardless of the motive.

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

      It wasn't just shaving. did you read the article? A gang of Amish extremists (what a strange turn of phrase that..) attacked these people, holding them down and actually inflicted injuries. They didn't just cut off their beards and hair. It was so violent the ones attacked felt compelled to go to outside authorities.

      This was a religious hate crime. Life in prison is not enough.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristina

      They didn't just "shave their beards" They injured them while they shaved the bears and cut the hair. These people were "bloodied and bruised".

      It was an attack due to a religious belief. it is a hate crime.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Edgar Friendly

    I guess Weird Al was right, Amish really are gangsta.

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

      I'd forgotten about that, lol.....

      September 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gman

    Really... ok i guess It could be a bit traumatic if some guys named MULLET cut my beard off. Honestly, this sounds like a will ferrel SNL skit.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JR in Texas

    Nobody will make a video about this religious cult for fear that they will burn down the U.S. Embassy and kill the ambassador.........uh oh that was the Muslims.......never mind.

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

      no that was some idiot here in the US that made the film. The extremist just used it as a fake reason to do what they did on Sept 11th. The attack on the embassy has been planned far in advance. Go read some real news instead of CNN.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. w5cdt

    OK...this is weird folks. Less weirdness please.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jo an

    Good...hate is hate...

    September 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wildone

    They ought'a wrap Sam's beard in a tractor PTO and tear it out.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. paullubbock

    They should be convicted and forced to wear a mullet, wife beaters and call all their clan members by the name of dude, i has spoken, let it be so.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MAC

    His name is Mullet convicted of violating the Shepard-James "Byrd" Hate crime law. I believe it's pronounced "beard". News would be more entertaining to read if they made reference to these things.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rosethornne

    Hateful is as hateful does.

    Now explain it to me like I'm a six year old: in what way other than the label of the cult does this mullet mullet-police guy differ from some power-crazed imam?

    September 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. packerfans

    Vote for Mitt Romney and paul Ryan. Do Not Vote Obama failed with 47 per cent who did not pay tax, he blame the rich pay more taxes?? Mitt was right. Obama broken the many law fedrals and IRS do nothing with 47 per cent!! Obamacare coming pentaly taxes this fall. why you vote for Obama?????

    September 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      AMEN! But the problem is that many believe that NObama will pay for everyone's healthcare, house, cars, electric..etc. But they are too stupid to realise that the money has to come from somewhere. What NObama intends to do is act like Robin Hood- Steal from the rich and give to the poor. Just think, today's American poor can get government paid-for house, cell phone, cable tv, and a car! The reality is that if we took every dollar from everyone we still wouldn't have enough to give to everyone who doesn't. Oh, and there's that pesky $16.4 trillion of debt America has. AUDI...

      September 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      Vote for Captain Kangaroo! Vote for Elmo! Vote for....oh wait, this is the Amish thread, where THE ELECTION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TOPIC, you triangular-headed fools...

      September 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Barry G.

    Jesus said: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

    Jesus also said: If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other and let him strike that one too.

    Jesus said: A new commandment I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you should love one another.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • bruce

      Wasn't the 11th commandment thou shalt not shave thy neighbors beard. There wasnt enough room so Moses left that one off.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ramtin

      Jesus couldnt grow a beard

      September 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • sybaris

      You don't need religion to be a good person, if you do then you have larger issues

      September 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fred Shapiro

    You do realize that in several hundred years people wilkl believe that the Mullet hairdo was named after this guy. Thst is how these things start.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
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