Ohio Amish set for sentencing in beard attacks

Feb 7, 2013 - by - 1 Comment

Feb. 7, 2013 Associated Press

BERGHOLZ, Ohio — More than 50 Amish children could lose one parent to prison — and most of the youngest could lose both — on Friday when 16 men and women are sentenced in beard-cutting attacks on fellow members of their faith in Ohio.

Most defendants could face as long as 10 years in prison and are asking the judge for leniency so they can return to their homes and farms, teaching their sons a trade and their daughters how to sew, cook and keep house.

But their bid faces an uphill battle. Victims of the 2011 attacks, which the government called a hate crime and an attempt by a splinter group to shame members who left or denounced it, say justice is needed, especially for the ringleader.

In a rare interview last week in Bergholz at the community's sprawling farm amid rolling hills in eastern Ohio, unmarried 19-year-old Edward Mast, grandson of ring leader Sam Mullet Sr., said he is anticipating a life of mentoring Amish children and sharing in child-rearing if the parents go to prison.

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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. Read More

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