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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Prison Terms for 16 in Ohio Amish Community

CLEVELAND (CN) - The bishop of the Bergholz Amish community in Ohio who terrorized members of his community by cutting their hair and beards received a 10-year prison sentence.

In imposing the sentence on Samuel Mullet Sr. and his 15 followers Monday, a federal judge emphasized that religion motivated the assaults, crediting evidence that the Amish religion holds sacred a man's beard and hair.

Though all 16 defendants had been convicted in 2012 for hate crimes - counts that carried life sentences - the 6th Circuit reversed the hate-crime convictions, as well as convictions for separate assaults, in August 2014.

Undisturbed by the reversal were the convictions of the 16 for conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering and the destruction or concealment of evidence.

Bishop Mullet, 69, was convicted of concealing evidence and making false statements to federal investigators. He received a sentence of 129 months.

Three of his followers - Eli Miller, Lester Mullet and Levi Miller - were also found guilty of concealing evidence. All three, ages 35, 30 and 56, respectively, were sentenced to 60 months in prison.

"The convictions stem from five separate assaults that occurred in four Ohio counties between September and November 2011 and from the defendants' efforts to conceal a camera and photographs that documented the assaults," according to a statement on the resentencing from the Justice Department. "The photographs depicted some of the defendants in the act of assaulting one of the victims and depicted the injuries and humiliation of others. The defendants intended to use the photographs to show other members of the community what they had done to the victims."

Johnny Mullet, 41, also received a 60-month sentence.

Daniel Mullet, 40; Lester Miller, 40; and Emanuel Schrock, 46, received 43-month sentences.

The remaining defendants received time served: Raymond Miller, 30; Linda Shrock, 47; Freeman Burkholder, 34; Anna Miller, 35; Elizabeth Miller, 40; Emma Miller, 40; Kathryn Miller, 25; and Lovina Miller, 35.

Most of the defendants live in Bergholz, Ohio. Lester Mullet is a resident of Hammondsville. Raymond Miller, Freeman Burkholder, Elizabeth Miller and Kathryn Miller are residents of Irondale.

The Justice Department said testimony at the lengthy trial showed that Bishop Mullet "exerted control over the Bergholz community by taking the wives of other men into his home, and by overseeing various means of disciplining community members, including corporal punishment."

"The assaults all entailed using scissors and battery-powered clippers to forcibly cut or shave the beard hair of the male victims and the head hair of the female victims," according to a statement on the resentencing. "During each assault, the defendants restrained and held down the victims. During some of the assaults, the defendants injured individuals who attempted to intervene to protect or rescue the victims. Following the attacks, some of the defendants participated in discussions about concealing photographs and other evidence of the assaults, according to evidence presented at trial."

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