Amish Beard-Cutters Face Life for Hate Crimes

     CLEVELAND (CN) – A jury convicted 16 people, including an Amish bishop, of federal hate crimes against members of their own community whose beards they sheared.
     Each of the defendants could face a life sentence at the sentencing hearing Judge Dan Polster set for Jan. 24, 2013.
     Samuel Mullet Sr., the bishop of the Bergholz Amish community, was identified as the ringleader of a group of Amish who persecuted others members of their community.
     Since Amish cannot operate motor vehicles, they hired drivers to transport them to the homes their perceived religious enemies. Once there, they used scissors or batter-powered clippers to forcibly shave the beards of men and the hair of women.
     “During each assault, the defendants restrained and held down the victims,” according to the December 2012 indictment. “During some of the assaults, the defendants injured individuals who attempted to intervene to protect or rescue the victims.”
     The jury heard testimony that the assaults constituted hate crimes because the manner in which men wear their beards and women wear their hair in the Amish community are considered symbols of their faith.
     In addition to the hate crime charges, Samuel Mullet Sr., Lester Mullet and Eli Miller were also convicted of concealing evidence.
     U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach applauded the jury’s verdict.
     “From day one, this case has been about the rule of law and defending the right of people to worship in peace,” Dettelbach said in a statement. “Our nation was founded on the bedrock principle that everyone is free to worship how they see fit. Violent attempts to attack this most basic freedom have no place in our country.”

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