Extremist Amish hair cutter faces jail time
The leader of an Amish break-away group in the US state of Ohio has been found guilty of hate crimes by orchestrating beard and hair-cutting attacks against members of his own faith in a dispute over religious differences.
A jury in Cleveland yesterday convicted Samuel Mullet Senior of planning the attacks in eastern Ohio last autumn.
Mullet and members of his family are among 16 people who have been accused in a federal trial.
The US government said the defendants targeted the victims’ hair because it carries spiritual significance in their faith.
Mullet faces a prison term of 10 years or more.
Defence lawyers had conceded the hair cuttings took place but argued that the government was overreaching by calling what happened hate crimes. They said the cuttings were merely family disputes.
Mullet was not accused of cutting anyone’s hair. However, prosecutors said he planned and encouraged his four sons and the others, mocked the victims in 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 when four or five men dragged him out of his farmhouse late one night.
Prosecutors told jurors that Mullet thought he was above the law and free to discipline those who went against him based on his religious beliefs.
Before his arrest last November, he defended what he believes is his right to punish individuals who break church laws.
The charges against Mullet and the others included conspiracy, evidence tampering and obstruction of justice.
All the victims, prosecutors said, were people who had a dispute with Mullet over his religious practices and his authoritarian rule.
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