Amish leader gets 15 years for cult activity. A report posted today at Contra Costa Times says 'the ringleader in hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
The Amish leader, Samuel Mullet Sr., 67, told Cleveland judge, Dan Aaron Polster, he was ready to take the punishment for being blamed of running a cult. Sources say 15 other Amish were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to seven years because of the cults beard and hair cutting activities.
Mullet said if his followers are viewed as a cult then "I'm going to take the punishment for everybody."
As victims and supporters filled separate sides of the courtroom, and fellow defendants with their attorneys sat at the four defense tables and filled the jury box, Mullet told the courts helping people has been his life-long goal. Mullet added he would not be around much longer, but did not mention any specific health conditions.
Ten men and six women were convicted last year in five 2011 attacks in Amish communities. The defendants were accused of carrying out the attacks as retaliation against Amish who had defied or denounced Mullet's authoritarian style.
Amish women let their hair grow long, and men grow beards once they marry. Cutting it would be offensive to Amish since they believe the Bible instructs them to grow the long hair and beards.
Mullet and members of his community were charged with a hate crime since prosecutors believe religious differences brought about the attacks.
Mullet's unmarried 19-year-old grandson, Edward Mast, discussed the family's attitude in a rare interview at the Mullet farm last week in eastern Ohio. Mast says they are steadfast in the belief that the attacks did not rise to the level of a hate crime.
"The beard, what it stands for me, what I know about it, once you're married, you just grow a beard. That's just the way the Amish is," says Mast. "They [the victims] got their beard back again, so what's the big deal about it?"
Arlene Miller, 48, of Carrollton, says her husband, a Amish bishop, was among the victims of the Amish beard cutting attacks. She thinks Mullet deserves a tougher sentence, while his followers should get less time if they get cult deprogramming counseling.
"It's a cult," says Arlene. "Their minds were programmed in the wrong way by Sam Mullet, so we feel like these people are very deceived and they are actually victims of Sam Mullet."
"There's no happy ending to this," she said.
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