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Seven charged with hate crimes over Amish beard cutting attacks

The spate of attacks terrorised members of the Amish community across three US states, according to Ohio police today.

Sam Mullet, one of the seven men arrested today, pictured outside his Ohio home on 10 October.
Sam Mullet, one of the seven men arrested today, pictured outside his Ohio home on 10 October.
Image: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta/PA Images

SEVEN MEMBERS of a breakaway Amish group have been arrested on hate crime charges arising from a spate of beard cuttings against other members of the Amish community.

Ohio authorities say that one of the seven is Sam Mullet, the leader of the group. Court documents filed today claim that Mullet allowed members who criticised him to be beaten and that he was sexually intimate with married women “to cleanse them”.

The filed affidavits also claim that Mullet forced members of his group to sleep in a chicken coop.

Hair-cutting is a highly sensitive issue in the Amish community, which believes the Bible instructs men to stop shaving and grow their beards after marrying, while women must allow their hair to grow long.

Speaking recently to the Associated Press, Mullet denied personally participating in the spate of beard-cuttings which shook the Amish community, but said he let his sons and other members of his group do it as a means of sending a message to others over their treatment of his group.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla today told the press that the Amish community in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana had been terrorised by the attacks and were living in fear of being targeted.

Last month, charges were brought against five of those arrested today but state prosecutors today indicated they were prepared to dismiss those charges and allow federal prosecutors proceed with their case.

The FBI says Mullet’s recent dispute with a number of Amish bishops centres on his wishes to excommunicate a number of members, which the bishops said was inconsistent with Amish teachings.

In a statement today, the FBI’s office in Cleveland, Ohio said that Samuel Mullet Sr, Johnny S Mullet, Daniel S Mullet, Levi F Miller, Eli M Miller and Emanuel Schrock, all of Bergholz, Ohio, and Lester S Mullet, of Hammondsville, Ohio have been charged with “wilfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person”.

Authorities claim that the men caused physical injuries while cutting beards and head hair, as well as injuring other people who attempted to prevent the cutting.

The seven men could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Leaders within Ohio’s Amish community had debated whether or not to break with tradition and seek external help over the attacks before deciding to contact the police.

- Additional reporting by the AP

Read more: Amish gang wanted over midnight ‘haircutting’ assaults >

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