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. Jeff Cox

    So does this qualify as a sect's crime?

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

    If this guy goes to jail we are just as bad as the Iranian Beard police. 10 years Probation no scissors

    September 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jungleboo

    Religion takes the cake, baby! Nut cases All.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. alligator face

    jesus didn't say any of that fool hardy stuff and i submit that he was a man no different than any other......ALL religions are a farce including Amish foolishness.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BlackDynamite

    THIS is the top news story at CNN?

    Now THATS' a slow news day!!

    September 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JosemiteExpress

    Fool I am a man of the land I am in to discipline I Omish hat and a beard on my chin. I be plowin and rackin so long that even Ezekel things my mind is gone. LOL – I woder if Shick and Gillette were on the deliberating jury. I can hear the conversation from Mullet right now" Listen here you little jimmy nosed hosers. When the mullet clan comes to your abode we are going to hold you down and give you a slick willy like you never seen before. You getting the closest shove of your life when i bust your beard with a Gillette fusion and some barbasal wisker cream. ROFLMAO

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

      you should go check out the world of warcraft parody of that song on youtube. freking hilarious!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cleareye1

    I do hope they will cut this guy's beard off as part of the punishment.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Greenaxe

    Yeah what are we barberarians?
    Nothing like an Amishaveandahaircut.....

    September 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jack

    Ironic that in high school, Mitt Romney committed the exact same crime. Pleasant guy.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JosemiteExpress

    This just in.... Mullet clan is on the loose giving slick willies and damsal bobs to all amish that had opposed the barn raising of last Sabbath night. Hid yur wiskers and conseal the lass's hair. The Mullet barbarian barbers are on the loose tonight. This has been a special report from amish action 5 News..

    September 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. oddjob2234

    They were just helping them out, getting with the times. As reported in the Onion:

    "Schmid added that he will shave off his 'ridiculous' Pennsylvania Dutch-style beard with no mustache, a look he says went out of fashion in 'about 1820.' "

    September 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ii2bcnii

    Cultists doing stupid things to other cultists.....
    Lock um up, throw away the key.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JennyTX

    Isn't religion great????

    September 20, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Portland tony

    Talk about overkill.....Hate crimes my ass.These were assault and battery cases. This proves that the Damned government has to many lawyers with nothing to do. Next will behate crime prosecution of teams that force freshman or rookie athletes to get buzz hair cuts. Or college sorority pledges to have their nails cut.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • frontgate

      You are either a religious fanatic or you don't understand the extremes these people will go to in order to force their religions extremes on others. This activity goes back to the mid- 1600s when Puritan authorities would banish those who violated religious laws in Massachusetts. If you remember early-American history Roger Williams was banished from the colony for violating the church laws. He was banished to the wilderness, which became Rhode Island.

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

      There is no end to which liberals will go to force their PC garbage on society. That is sad!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Are Muslim death threats covered as a hate crime?

      September 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • cliff

      I will rest much better this evening knowing the taxpayers spent a few million to capture these "hellaious hair cutters!" Boy, what a relief!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      @frontage......I've lived in Amish country. I respect their ways. But when 10 dudes wearing Green Bay Packer Jerseys walk into a bar in Minnesota and a fight breaks out...people who get caught are charged with assault, battery, disorderly conduct ....Not a Hate crime. A guy can do life in prison for cutting someone's hair? Jeez!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Your take on these attacks are a reflection on your ignorance of this law. Bad behavior from religious groups have been over looked for to long, the free ride should be amputated. This is the twenty first century, religion didn't come from a deity, it came from dirty old men to stupid to understand the realities of Mother nature.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      Read the is a hate crime if they commited a crime based on race, RELIGION, gender preference, etc....if they walk in a bar full of Browns fans and started beating the hell out of them because the packers fans HATE the Browns fans, although that is a STUPID reason, yeah, it would qualify.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bobinohio

    Today we can rest in peace. The world is a much safer place.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
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