The leader of an Amish breakaway group, 66 year old Sam Mullet has this afternoon been found guilty of hate crimes in beard and hair cutting attacks against members of his own faith in a dispute over religious differences.
The attacks orchestrated last fall in the normally peaceful religious settlements in eastern Ohio were said to have terrorized the community who were aghast that someone (never mind from their own faith) could ever think to humiliate them like this.
It was proven in court that Mullet and his disciples (including four of his children) of 16 were motivated by religious differences as it was shown that targeting defendants hair carried spiritual significance within the Amish faith.
Says the UK’s dailymail: Mullet wasn’t accused of cutting anyone’s hair.
But prosecutors said he planned and encouraged his sons and the others, mocked the victims in jailhouse phone calls and was given a paper bag stuffed with the hair of one victim.
One bishop told jurors his chest-length beard was chopped to within one-and-a-half inches of his chin when four or five men dragged him out of his farmhouse in a late-night home invasion.
Strangely Mullet persisted in egging his followers to cut beards and hair as he felt he was above the law and free to discipline those who went against his religious beliefs.
The suspects had argued that the Amish are bound by different rules guided by their religion and that the government had no place getting involved in what amounted to a family or church dispute.
Offered Mullet at the time of his arrest: ‘You have your laws on the road and the town — if somebody doesn’t obey them, you punish them. But I’m not allowed to punish the church people?’
Then there’s this via the cleveland metro: Defense lawyers called no witnesses, but argued that the beard-cutting raids never reached the severity of a hate crime, which required a religious motive and bodily injury, including disfigurement, for a conviction.
They argued that love and compassion drove the hair-cutting conflicts, which were intended to compel the victims to return to a conservative Amish lifestyle.
Love and compassion? Or the lack of?
The hair-cuttings, according to Mullet were a response to continuous criticism he’d received from other Amish religious leaders about him being too strict, including shunning people in his own group.
Ultimately what makes this case particularly perverse is how one would normally expect an individual or a group of individuals completely unrelated to the clan to inflict such humiliation and degradation and not someone from within the dominion who would understand the importance of what was been done to individuals stripped of their hair and beards. Perhaps on some level one can wonder if Mullet wasn’t so much punishing those within his own clan as he claims but administering a kind of self disgust and self loathing at the set of beliefs that he had now turned on its head…?
At present Mullet faces a prison term of 10 years or more. The charges against Mullet and the others included conspiracy, evidence tampering and obstruction of justice.