Amish Man Appeals His Hate Crime Sentence In Forced Beard Cutting Attacks

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

The leader of an Amish sect in Ohio appealed his 2012 hate crime conviction for forced beard and hair cutting attacks, claiming his attorney mishandled the case.

Former Amish bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. filed an appeal Friday against his 2012 conviction for the hate crime of forcibly chopping off the hair and beards of those who opposed his breakaway Amish sect within his community, according to the Associated Press. Mullet argued in his appeal that Assistant Federal Public Defender Ed Bryan made a series of errors, to which Bryan admitted in an included affidavit, that affected the outcome of Mullet’s trial.

“Although we diligently represented Mr. Mullet at trial and on appeal, we did not represent Mr. Mullet error free,” Bryan wrote in an affidavit, according to Cleveland.

A Cleveland federal court convicted Mullet of causing his followers to carry out a series of five raids, each targeting a single person, in which they attacked those who allegedly opposed Mullet’s commands by dragging them out of bed and shearing their beards and hair with electric clippers and horse mane shears.  Authorities initially treated the attacks as hate crimes since beards and hair carry spiritual significance for the Amish.

Bryan admitted in his affidavit that he failed to call out federal prosecutors in Mullet’s second appeal for mentioning Mullet’s alleged sexual misconduct to the jury. Mullet argued that Bryan made several other errors, including failing to object to the prosecutions use of Mullet’s quote in a 2011 AP article allegedly out of context as a confession, failing to object to the testimony of government expert Donald Kraybill’s who, instead of speaking only about the spiritual significance of hair and beards in Amish culture, spoke about how Mullet controlled his followers by “coercion and force and threats and intimidation,” according to Cleveland.

Mullet requested in his appeal that U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who convicted Mullet, overturn his conviction and that Mullet be allowed to leave prison for the process of his latest appeal. Mullet is currently serving a sentence of 10 years and 9 months in federal prison.

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