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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Amish on Trial

Sam Mullet

Sixteen members of an Ohio Amish community are charged with cutting the hair of fellow members as payback for not following their leader, 66 year old Bishop Sam Mullet.  The defendants, 10 men and 6 women refused to speak to the media over alleged assaults and home invasions that occurred between September and November last year.

Elizabeth Miller

Members of the group forced their way into homes and cut the beards and hair of the occupants, then took their photos to shame them.  Amish believe that women should grow their hair long and men should grow beards when they marry and to have their hair cut is an act considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.

Emma Miller

Four women have been released on a $20,000 unsecured bond each. The defendants, Lovina Miller, Kathryn Miller, Emma Miller and Elizabeth Miller are all members of the Amish community in Bergholz, Ohio and are married to male members of Samuel Mullet's family, the alleged ring leader.

Kathryn Miller

Mullet denies he ordered the hair-cutting but admits he didn't stop his relatives from carrying it out. An agent told the judge that during the raid on Sam Mullet's 800 acre property, they found him in a bedroom with the wife of one of the co-defendants doing "sexual counselling."   Evidence shown to the judge included drugs, sex and physical assaults recorded on video.

Lovina Miller

Mullet said he needs to go home urgently to help his community with essential chores and was prepared to renege on his beliefs.   His lawyer Edward G. Bryan said Mullet is not opposed to allowing electricity to be installed at his residence to accommodate  an electronic monitoring device.  "It is not part of the Amish belief system that electricity is per se evil" he said.

But the Justice Department wasn't buying it and stood by their decision to keep him in jail.  "We are opposed to the motion" Mike Tobin, a department spokesman said "Essentially we're opposed to it for the same reason we've been opposed to the release of Mullet and the six co-defendants from day one, which is that they pose a threat to the community, so it's really as simple as that."

Edit February 9, 2013.  Samuel Mullet 67, was sentenced to 15 years. Fifteen of his followers, including 6 women, were given lesser sentences, ranging from one year and one day to seven years.