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BERGHOLZ, Ohio-A raid was conducted on the compound of an Amish group situated in eastern Ohio early this morning before dawn. Seven men were arrested . They were arrested on Federal hate crime charges by the FBI and local authorities.
Arrested was the group’s leader, Sam Mullet, and his three sons, Johnny. Lester, and Daniel. Also arrested were members Levi Miller, Eli Miller, and Emanuel Schrock. The seven are now in custody and will be arraigned later today. It is reported that the arrests were made in connection with attacks carried out by several of the members of the group on other Amish followers. The men are accused of forcefully cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women. Federal penalties for a hate crimes can carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison.
Amish men and women consider the cutting of hair highly offensive. They believe the bible instructs that women grow their hair long and that the men should not shave after marriage.
Mullet, who told the associated press that he had not ordered the hair-cutting, but he also did not stop his sons and other members of his community from carrying out the acts. He says that the acts were a way of sending a message to the Amish community in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they have been treating Mullet and his breakaway group of followers.
Mullets group was established in 1995. Recently, tensions in the Amish community flared after Mullet excommunicated several of his members when they left the group. Bishops from the larger community, citing the absence of any spiritual justification would not condon his actions.
According to followers, Mullet ruled his community with an iron fist. He allowed members of the community to beat members who disobeyed him, locked members up in the chicken coop for days as punishment. According to an affidavit, one of Mullet’s daughter-in-laws and a brother-in-law said that Mullet would have sexual relationships with married women of his group. They said it was done by Mullet to “cleanse them of the devil.” The two have left Mullet’s group.
Members of the Amish community rarely press charges when incidences arise. They generally follow their practice of avoiding court involvement. But some in the community are pressing charges in this case, they cite preventing anyone from getting hurt in further actions by Mullets group as their reasons. Others that clearly were attacked have refused to do so.
Amish men and women lead a very modest lifestyle. The group prefers to travel by horse and buggy, and forgo modern conveniences in an effort to distance themselves from the outside world. They see this abstinence for modern goods as a symbol of their yielding to a collective order. Ohio has an Amish population of approximately 61,000 members. This is second to the state of Pennsylvania, who leads the nation in Amish membership.