Mullets charged over Amish beard abuse

Mullets charged over Amish beard abuse October 9, 2011

TWO members of a breakaway Amish group in the US – Johnny and Lester Mullet – have been charged with “degrading” a 74-year-old Amisher by removing his beard.

The pair of Mullets – aged 38 and 26, respectively – are, according to this report in the Philadephia Inquirer, the sons of Amish “bishop” Sam Mullet who heads the rebel group, which lives in a compound with houses, barns, outbuildings, and a schoolhouse in a valley near the Ohio River in Bergholz, Jefferson County.

Amish ‘godfather’ Sam Mullet

A third man, Levi Miller, 53, was also charged. All three are accused of kidnapping and burglary following an attack on Tuesday on the elderly Amish man. He was in bed with his wife when six men broke into their home and held him in a chair. They used scissors and clippers to debeard him.

A grand jury is also considering charges following an attack on Myron Miller, a bishop of the Mechanicstown Amish church. A September 6 attack in Trumbull County is also under investigation. In that case, an older couple who had left the Bergholz group were set upon by their children, who are still in the group, according to Myron Miller’s wife, Arlene.

In all of the cases, the attackers cut the beards of Amish men or the hair of Amish women. Once married, Amish men let their beards grow and women do the same with their hair, following what they believe are biblical orders. Cutting off an Amish man’s beard or an Amish woman’s hair is regarded as both a religious and a physical attack.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said:

One Amish told me he’d rather die than have his beard cut off. It’s humiliating, embarrassing, degrading to them.

“It’s bizarre,” he said of the crimes, which have received extensive national and international cover.

I guess the reason it’s gaining so much publicity is that no one has ever heard of Amish-on-Amish crime like this.

Abdalla said it was believed the attacks stemmed from a bollocking the elder Mullet received four years ago when 300 bishops from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York convened and criticized him for his leadership of his group, and for ordering the “shunning” of two families. Said Abdalla:

They brought him on the carpet, and he told them to go to hell. He thumbed his nose at them.

Asked whether Mullet would be charged with any of the crimes, Abdalla said:

Not at this time.

But asked whether Mullet was a person of interest in the investigations, he said:

He’s more than that. Nothing moves without him saying it’s OK; everybody out there answers to him. Nobody does anything without him putting his blessing on it.

Abdalla said that he had been investigating activities of the elder Mullet and his group for years but that until the most recent victims of the attacks decided to press charges, he was stuck.

He said he had received reports, but had not been able to confirm, that the group held a man in a chicken coop for 10 to 15 days. He said the suspects confirmed during questioning that they had held the man against his will.

The attacks have caused fear throughout the Amish community nationwide, he added.

These people had a hit list. We know four other people they were going to target. Who knows when it would have ended?

Hat tip: Diesel Balaam and Barriejohn

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