Seven Amish hair cutters arrested for hate crimesBy Mennonite Weekly Review staff
Authorities raided the compound of a breakaway Amish group before dawn Nov. 23 in eastern Ohio and arrested seven men on federal hate crime charges for a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks on other Amish.
Those arrested were the group’s leader, Sam Mullet, his sons Daniel, Johnny and Lester, and Levi Miller, Eli Miller and Emanuel Schrock.
The FBI and local sheriffs raided the settlement near Bergholz, Ohio, and arrested the men on charges that they committed and conspired to commit religiously motivated physical assaults. The maximum potential penalty for the violations is life in prison.
Several members of the group cut the beards and hair of Amish men and women in at least four violent attacks over the last few months, the authorities said.
Cutting the hair is an offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards when they marry.
Some Amish have refused to press charges, following their practice of avoiding involvement in court.
In October, Mullet told the Associated Press that he didn’t order the hair-cutting but didn’t stop the men from carrying out the attacks.
Mullet said the goal of the hair-cutting was to show Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.
“They changed the rulings of our church here, and they’re trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we’re not going to do that,” Mullet told the AP.
Former residents of the compound said Mullet exerted iron control over the settlement of 120, many of them his relatives, the New York Times reported. Mullet sometimes beat the men or imprisoned them in a chicken coop for days, the former residents said.
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