An Amish sect leader who “terrorized and traumatized” other Amish community members by cutting their hair and beards was sentenced on Friday to 15 years in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Aaron Polster according to an ABC News report on Feb. 7, 2013.
In addition to the Amish sect leader, nine other men and six women were sentenced to prison times between one to seven years. Most of the women were sentenced for one year.
“The defendants were charged with a hate crime because prosecutors believe religious differences brought about the attacks.”
Cutting an Amish person’s hair violates the Amish belief that women should let their hair grow long and men should grow beards after they get married.
Some of the defendants addressed the judge individually in the courtroom and promised not to conduct any further beard-cutting attacks.
During the sentencing, the 67-year-old Amish sect leader Sam Mullet sat emotionless in the courtroom.
Federal prosecutor Bridget Brennan had asked the judge to punish Sam Mullet “adequately” because the Amish sect leader of the eastern Ohio community appeared to still have control over his followers despite having been locked up since his arrest in late 2011.
"He is a danger to this community. … He is capable of controlling 15 defendants."
The Amish sect leader’s ability to control others was evident as he sat emotionless in the courtroom during the sentencing. Silence and emotions, or the lack thereof, can often be more powerful than any words.
Sam Mullet’s words to the judge before his sentencing also mirror the danger of a sect leader that is able to control others. The Amish leader told the judge “If his community is seen as a cult, ‘Then I'm going to take the punishment for everybody’."
Unlike the other defendants, the 67-year-old Amish sect leader appears to have used his authoritarian sect leadership skills even in front of the judge. Placing oneself above and in front of others, taking responsibility for the actions of others, saying that I have lived my life “trying to help others,” and using the famous “if” statement. “If you think I am running a cult, ...”
A judge’s sentencing is based on facts and evidence, not on an Amish sect leader’s “if” statement.
Bridget Brennan, the federal prosecutor in the case against the Amish sect leader seems to have understood the danger of a sect leader when she argued that the hair and beard-cutting attacks “were retaliation against Amish who had defied or denounced Mullet's authoritarian style.”
One has to be surprised that the Amish sect leader didn’t have one of his followers try to cut the prosecutor’s or the judge’s hair while in the courtroom.