The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 8, 2013

Ohio Amish beard-cutting ringleader gets 15 years

— CLEVELAND (AP) — Denying he ran an Amish cult, the 67-year-old ringleader of hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow members of his faith in Ohio was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison, while family members convicted of carrying out his orders got one to seven years.

The judge said the defendants had violated the constitutional rights protecting religious practice that had also benefited them as Amish. Authorities had prosecuted the attacks as a hate crime.

Before his sentencing, Samuel Mullet Sr. told the judge he had been accused of running a cult. Mullet, his ankles in chains and a white beard down to mid-chest, said that if his community is seen as a cult, "Then I'm going to take the punishment for everybody."

The 10 men and six women were convicted last year in five attacks in Ohio Amish communities in 2011. The government said the attacks were retaliation against Amish who had defied or denounced Mullet's authoritarian hold over the splinter group he started in 1995.

The case has opened a rare window to the lives of the insular Amish, who shun many facets of modern life and are deeply religious. Amish believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards once they marry. Cutting it would be shameful and offensive.

"The victims were terrorized and traumatized," U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster said, noting that the same constitution that exempts them from jury service and permission to leave school at 14 was turned against the victims. "Each of you has received the benefits of that First Amendment."

With relatives of victims and his family sitting on opposite sides of the public gallery, Mullet said he has lived his life trying to help others.

"That's been my goal all my life," Mullet said to a hushed courtroom, with his fellow defendants and their attorneys sitting at four defense tables and filling the jury box.

Text Only
State and Nation
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee