By Jim Kouri
Seven Ohio men were arrested yesterday on charges that they committed and conspired to commit religiously-motivated physical assaults against members of the Amish community, a Christian sect.
The suspects are charged with violation of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The arrests were announced by Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
The criminal complaint, filed in Cleveland, charges Samuel Mullet Sr., Johnny S. Mullet, Daniel S. Mullet, Levi F. Miller, Eli M. Miller and Emanuel Schrock, all of Bergholz, Ohio; and Lester S. Mullet, of Hammondsville, Ohio, with willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person.
The maximum penalty for these criminal acts is life in federal prison.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the arrest warrants, the defendants conspired to carry out a series of assaults against fellow Amish individuals with whom they were having a religiously-based dispute.
In doing so, the defendants forcibly restrained multiple Amish men and cut off their beards and head hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers, causing bodily injury to these men while also injuring others who attempted to stop the attacks.
In the Amish religion, a man’s beard and head hair are sacred.
This case is being investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and Deputy Chief Kristy Parker of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.