Seven men from an Amish sect in Ohio have been charged with allegedly “restraining multiple Amish men by force and cutting off their beards and hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers.”
Amish men and women have had their beards and hair cut in a number of attacks in the community. Amish men do not generally trim their beards after marriage for religious and cultural reasons.
BBC News reports that a Department of Justice affidavit lists the suspects being charged as Samuel Mullet, Johnny Mullet, Daniel Mullet, Levi Miller, Eli Miller and Emanuel Schrock, all from Bergholz; and Lester Mullet, of Hammondsville.
According to Taiwan News Online, Samuel Mullet was the reputed leader of a breakaway Amish splinter group. He allegedly ordered his followers to cut off the beards and hair of his rivals.
The affidavit read, “In disregard for Amish teachings and scripture, Samuel Mullet has forced members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop on his property and allowed Bergholz members to beat other members who appear to disobey Samuel him.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, eight families who were part of Mullet’s group moved away from Bergholz in 2005 for religious reasons, and were excommunicated by Mullet for leaving.
Other bishops overturned the excommunication and allowed the families to join other Amish communities in Ohio. Court papers say a bishop who helped to overturn the excommunications was one of the haircutting victims.
Mullet’s daughter-in-law and former son-in-law have alleged that Mullet “has been ‘counseling’ married women in the group from Bergholz and taking them into his home to cleanse them of the devil with acts of sexual intimacy.”