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4 arrests made in beard-cutting raids, more to come

11:09 PM, Oct 8, 2011   |    comments
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BERGHOLZ, Ohio -- Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdallah tells Channel 3 they have arrested four people related to a series of beard-cutting attacks.

Deputies arrested Levi Miller, Johnny Mullet, and Lester Mullet, all in connection to these attacks. 

"This message is going to be sent, Amish people are not going to tolerate this," says Sheriff Abdallah.

The Sheriff also says two more people will be arrested in the coming days.

The leader of a breakway Amish sect denies he had anything to do with a series of beard-cutting attacks which have taken place in several counties in Eastern Ohio over the last few weeks.

Sam Mullet, 65, bishop of his breakaway Amish sect centered just outside the small town of Bergholz, Ohio, tells Channel 3 he knows about the raids, in which Amish men have their beards cut off, and Amish women and men have had their hair cut, but had nothing to do with the incidents.

"They say I did but they don't believe anything I say," Mullet said, perched atop a bulldozer near the entrance of the road which houses his family enclave. "Because I'm the oldest here and I'm the bishop, I'm responsible."

Authorities in Jefferson County suspect a connection between the raids and Mullet's sect, which includes about 18 families who broke away from the mainstream Amish community.

Sheriffs of four counties were looking into filing criminal charges in connection with the Amish-on-Amish attacks.

Mullet said whoever is responsible for the attacks, in which a truckful of Amish men are said to approach a house and eventually attack its occupant, has religious, not criminal motivation.

"It's all religion," he maintained, "that's why we can't understand why the sheriff has his nose in our business. It started with us excommunicating members that weren't listening or obeying our laws. That's where it all started. I didn't know the courts could stick their nose in religion, but that seems what they did here."

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdallah has been quoted as saying that Mullet threatened his life several times, while some other Amish have said that Mullet's mostly family community is a cult.

"I don't work any different than any other bishop, but I'm pointed out and held way up here for being the meanest one of the bunch," Mullet said, when asked why he has drawn so much attention from both the authorities and other Amish.

While he said he had nothing to do with the beard-cutting attacks, Mullet admitted he might know some of the young men involved and had given them "a talking to."

Cutting the beard of an Amish man or the hair of an Amish woman is considered a serious insult and degrading to the victim.

Mullet speculated on who might be involved. 

"It's because of members being excommunicated," he said. "From what we hear, it's my daughter's ex-husband and his family. They're being excommunicated where they're at, so I don't know what the deal is there."

Mullet says his strict religious ways have made him the object of suspicion for years. "They've been after me since what, 2003, trying to put me in jail or in a mental institution," he said, and acknowledged a long standing fued with the Jefferson County sheriff.

"He has to do what he has to do, and I have to do what I have to do," Mullet said. "Ask him how much the other Amish paid him to say what he's been saying."

He talked about all the rumors he said had been falsely spread about him and his family, and how they prompted years of suspicion.

"They said I was being bad to my daughters, forcing them to have abortions and stuff. That we had children who weren't healthy and I was killing them and burying them. But there's no evidence of that."

"We've had social workers down here time after time, checking into our grandkids. Look at them," he offered, "I was supposed to have been punching them. Do you see any black eyes? I was supposed to have done all these horrible things to my wife and my nephews."

Authorities have not named any suspects but said charges could include burglary and assault, as some of the beard and hair cutting victims had slight injuries.

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