Ohio Amish consider renegade Bergholz Clan a cult
Accused of hate-crime assaults, clan an embarrassment to peaceful AmishBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite Weekly Review
One of the attackers said the victim “was a Christian and should not struggle,” an affidavit filed in court said. When the victim tried to remind his attackers they were Christian too, the man said, “We are not Christians.”
Sheriff Abdalla said the arrests have calmed the fears of local Amish.
“We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of calls, people living in fear. They’re buying mace, some are sitting with shotguns, getting locks on their doors because of Sam Mullet,” he told WKYC-TV.
Some Amish have refused to press charges, following their practice of avoiding involvement in court.
Mullet has said he knew of the attacks but did not attempt to stop them. He maintains that the hair-cutting is a religious matter, not a legal one.
In an affidavit, an FBI agent alleged that the Bergholz Clan carried out the attacks in retaliation for a decision by more than 300 Amish church leaders to overturn a number of excommunications handed down by Mullet.
Mullet had excommunicated eight Amish families who had moved away from the clan. After that decision was overturned, Mullet sought revenge, prosecutors said.
Mullet “forced extreme punishments on and physical injury to those in the community who defy him, including forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop on his property,” the affidavit said. Mullet also counseled “the married women in the Bergholz Clan and [took] them into his home so that he may cleanse them of the devil with acts of sexual intimacy.”
After a four-hour federal court hearing Nov. 30, a U.S. magistrate denied bond for Sam Mullet, 66; his sons, Johnny, 38, and Daniel, 37; and Emanuel Schrock, 43. They will remain in a federal detention facility. Their case will go before a grand jury.
U.S. Magistrate George J. Limbert called the men flight risks and “a danger to the Amish community.” The men face up to life in prison if convicted.
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