Late word today that 16 members of an Amish sect were sentenced today in Cleveland in that bizarre series of beard-cutting attacks. The leader of the Bergholz Amish sect, Samuel Mullet, was sentenced to 15 years for overseeing the attacks, even though he wasn’t personally involved.
As a result of religious disputes with other members of the Ohio Amish community, the defendants planned and carried out a series of assaults on their perceived religious enemies. The assaults involved the use of hired drivers, either by the defendants or the alleged victims, because practitioners of the Amish religion do not operate motor vehicles. 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 trial testimony.
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.
Said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach:
“From day one, this case has been about the rule of law and defending the right of people to worship in peace. This was never about ‘haircuts.’ These were violent, religiously motivated home invasions that left the victims bloody, bruised and beaten,” said U.S. Attorney Dettlebach. “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.”
There’s also this choice quote from Judge Dan Aaron Polster:
“Each and every one of you did more than terrorize, traumatize and disfigure the victims. You trampled on the Constitution.”