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Courts and Crime

The leader of an Ohio Amish sect gets 15 years for hate crimes
Sam Mullet Sr. said he's willing to accept full responsibility for the forced beard- and hair-cutting of other Amish

Kevin Niedermier
In The Region:
The leader of a breakaway Amish sect, Sam Mullet Sr., has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The 67-year-old Mullet and more than a dozen of his followers were convicted of federal hate crimes last September. Prosecutors say Mullet orchestrated retaliation against other Amish, including shearing the beards and long hair of those who had broken away from him. Lead prosecutor Bridget Brennan says the testimony of victim Raymond Hershberger was key in making that point.


Lead prosecutor Bridget Brennan

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“His quote at trial was, ‘I would have rather been beaten black and blue than have them take my hair and beard'," Brennan says. "And if you’re a practitioner of the Amish faith, there’s no part of your body that’s more sacred to you than your hair and your beard. Because they are the symbols that you promote to the rest of the world to show a deep commitment to your faith and to God. So for people to come in and destroy that, what Raymond Hershberger was trying to convey was, ‘I'll take any injury. You can take any other part of my body, but when you take my hair and my beard, you’re essentially trying to rob me of my faith’.”

During sentencing today, Mullet told U.S. District Judge Dan Polster that he was willing to take the fall for all of the members of his group. Polster called Mullet’s actions reprehensible and said the group trampled on the First Amendment, which respects Amish traditions regarding to military service and education.

Polster sentenced eight of the other men and one woman to two to seven years in prison. Five women and one man will serve a year and a day in jail.
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