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Amish Beard Cuttings: Twelve Charged With Hate Crimes

Sam Mullet

THOMAS J. SHEERAN   12/20/11 07:19 PM ET   AP

CLEVELAND — Twelve members of a breakaway Amish group were charged with federal hate crimes in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in eastern Ohio farm country, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The seven-count indictment against Samuel Mullet and 11 relatives or members of his group include charges of conspiracy, assault and evidence tampering in what prosecutors say were hate crimes motivated by religious differences.

The five attacks between September and November involved cutting women's hair and men's beards and hair. That's considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.

The indictment also charges four of Mullet's children, a son-in-law, three nephews, the spouses of a niece and nephew and a member of the Mullet community in Bergholz.

Mullet and six of the suspects have been held without bond since their arrests in FBI raids Nov. 23 at the Mullet compound near Steubenville in eastern Ohio.

The five new suspects will be issued summonses to appear for arraignment, said U.S. attorney's spokesman Mike Tobin.

The indictment alleges a pair of previously unreported assaults in the Bergholz area. It says that on Sept. 24, at the home of one of the defendants, another provided an unnamed victim with a cup of coffee "laced with an over-the-counter product" intended to sicken the victim; it does not specify which product was used. It also alleges that, on the same day, three of the defendants and others enticed the victim to take a walk around the property, then restrained him and removed his beard and hair with scissors.

A message seeking comment on the indictment was left for Mullet's federal public defender in Cleveland. An attorney who represented Mullet when the case was in state court had said at the time that Mullet could fight the allegations.

Mullet told The Associated Press in October that he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop his sons and others from carrying it out. He said the goal was to send a message to other Amish that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.

The others charged previously are Mullet's sons Johnny, Daniel and Lester Mullet; son-in-law Emanuel Schrock; nephew Eli Miller; and community member Levi Miller.

Newly charged are Mullet's daughter Linda Schrock; nephews Lester and Raymond Miller; Anna Miller, the wife of another nephew; and a niece's husband, Freeman Burkholder. Court documents didn't list attorneys for the five new suspects.

Lawyers for several other defendants didn't immediately return messages. Attorneys for Daniel Mullet and Eli Miller declined to comment. Neal Atway, attorney for Levi Miller, said his client planned to plead not guilty but said he couldn't comment further.

An FBI affidavit said three of Mullet's sons and a nephew and another community member had confessed in early October to taking part in at least a couple of the attacks.

Several members of the group carried out the attacks by forcibly cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women and then taking photos of them, authorities said.

Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.

Amish often mete out their own internal punishment and rarely report crimes to law enforcement. Some beard-cutting victims declined to press charges earlier.

The dispute with Amish bishops stemmed from Mullet's desire to excommunicate several members, the FBI said. Other bishops concluded the excommunications weren't consistent with Amish teachings and scripture and decided not to recognize the penalties, the FBI said.

The FBI affidavit that led to the arrests detailed hair-cutting attacks in Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson and Trumbull counties, including a man allegedly lured to the Mullet complex in Jefferson County.

Ohio has an estimated Amish population of just under 61,000 – second only to Pennsylvania – with most living in rural counties south and east of Cleveland.

___

AP Legal Affairs Writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report.

Earlier on HuffPost:


SEE PHOTOS FROM THE CASE:
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  • Sam Mullet

    FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2011 file photo, Sam Mullet leans on the mailbox at his home in Bergholz, Ohio. The FBI and local sheriff's deputies arrested seven men, including Mullet, reputed leader of a breakaway Amish sect, on federal hate crime charges early Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011. A grand jury indicted 11 individuals for their alleged involvement in a spree of beard cuttings on Dec. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

  • Mugshots

    FILE - This file combo made from photos provided by the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department shows, from left, Levi Miller, Johnny Mullet, and Lester Mullet, of Bergholz, Ohio. These three men and two others suspected of forcefully cutting the beards of fellow Amish were arraigned Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, and released on $50,000 bonds posted by the leader of their breakaway group. (AP Photo/Jefferson County Sheriffs Department, File)

  • Lester Mullet

    This photo provided by the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department shows Lester Mullet of Bergholz, Ohio. Mullet and three other men believed to be members of a breakaway Amish group were arrested Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 for allegedly going into the home an elderly Amish man and cutting his hair and beard. (AP Photo/Jefferson County Sheriffs Department)

  • Levi Miller

    This photo provided by the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department shows Levi Miller of Bergholz, Ohio. Miller and three other men believed to be members of a breakaway Amish group were arrested Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 for allegedly going into the home an elderly Amish man and cutting his hair and beard. (AP Photo/Jefferson County Sheriffs Department)

  • Johnny Mullet

    This photo provided by the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department shows Johnny Mullet of Bergholz, Ohio. Mullet and two other men believed to be members of a breakaway Amish group were arrested Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 for allegedly going into the home an elderly Amish man and cutting his hair and beard. (AP Photo/Jefferson County Sheriffs Department)

  • Fred Abdella

    Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdella sits at his desk in Steubenville, Ohio on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. Abdella disputes the claim by Sam Mullet, the leader of a breakaway Amish group, who said that an attack on fellow Amish in which a man's beard was cut off was a religious issue stemming from long-standing resentment of his group's treatment. Sam Mullet, 66, said the goal was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

  • Members of the Amish community leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Cleveland. Sixteen men and women have pleaded not guilty in beard- and hair-cutting attacks against fellow Amish in Ohio. The latest indictment added new allegations that the suspects tried to hide or destroy evidence, including a disposable camera, shears and a bag of hair from the victims. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Members of the Amish community leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Cleveland. Sixteen men and women have pleaded not guilty in beard- and hair-cutting attacks against fellow Amish in Ohio. The latest indictment added new allegations that the suspects tried to hide or destroy evidence, including a disposable camera, shears and a bag of hair from the victims. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Arlene Miller checks for her mail in front of her home on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 in Carrolton, Ohio. Miller, 46, who is Amish, tells the Associated Press, her husband had his beard cut by members of a breakaway Amish group. Several men came to their door and attacked her husband, who fled when he called his sons for help. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

  • Jeffery Stone

    Jeffery Stone, mayor of Bergholz, Ohio. sits on the front stoop of his home in Bergholz on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. Stone said that he and the town have not have any problems with the group of breakaway Amish living at the edge of his community. Sam Mullet, the leader of a breakaway Amish group said an attack on fellow Amish in which a man's beard was cut off was a religious issue stemming from long-standing resentment of his group's treatment. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

  • Sam Mullet

    Amish children play baseball during recess outside their school in Bergholz, Ohio home on Monday. Oct. 10, 2011. Sam Mullet , the leader of the breakaway Amish group, said an attack on fellow Amish in which a man's beard was cut off was a religious issue stemming from long-standing resentment of his group's treatment. Mullet, 66, said the goal was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community. ( AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

  • Sam Mullet

    In this photo provided to an Ohio district court late in August, Samuel Mullet allegedly cuts off the beard of his follower, Raymond Hershberger in October last year.

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