The Curious Case of Amish Hate Crimes

An Amish community falls victim to hate crimes carried out by their own brethren.

Samuel Mullet Sr. and 15 other members of an Amish community in eastern Ohio were found guilty of hate-crimes against their fellow believers, on Sept. 20.


Mullet is the leader of what the New York Times called, “a renegade Amish sect.” Last fall, 15 followers of Mullet, into the homes of followers who openly displayed their opposition to Mullet’s leadership. The home invaders, including six women, then proceeded to shear off the beards of the men and hack off the hair of the women. In the Amish faith long beards of men and uncut hair of women are a center to their faith.


Those who spoke up, expressing their views of Mullet’s leadership as cult-like, were the targets of these attacks. Mullet is also said to have forced his followers to sleep in chicken-coops, and urged married-women to attend intimate sexual “counseling,” his own daughter-in-law the being among the victims.


Mullet did not participate in the assaults, but had been deemed the mastermind by the prosecutors. Their argument being that Mullet intended to publically humiliate those who opposed him.


“The five victims simply wanted to be left to practice in their own way, in peace,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States attorney for the Northern district in Ohio. “The defendants invaded their homes, physically attacked these people, and sheared them almost like animals.”


Over three weeks of testimony, one particularly moving account of an elderly woman in Mullet’s community was heard. Six of her children and their spouses stole into her home late one night. The men took ahold of her husband and sheared his beard. The women seized her and hacked her waist length hair off, while she knelt, praying.


The 16 defendants, including Mullet, were found guilty of conspiracy, hate-crimes, and obstructing justice. The sentencing will take place on January 24, 2013. Presently, the group is facing up to several decades in prison.


Mullet intends to apply for an appeal on the grounds that the 2009 hate-crime law was misused in the case.