Amish leader denied release

The leader of a breakaway Bergholtz Amish sect convicted for ordering hair- and beard-cutting attacks on enemies, including a Trumbull County couple, was denied release from prison by a federal appeals panel on Wednesday.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Appeals court denied releasing Sam Mullet Sr., 67, while his appeal on hate-crime convictions is pending. Mullet is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

The judges disagreed with Mullet’s arguments that he poses no flight risk, that District Judge Dan Polster gave incorrect instructions to the trial jury for kidnapping, that his hate-crime charge was incorrectly applied to his case and that the attacks were never religiously motivated.

Mullet was convicted of ordering several attacks including his group’s Nov. 23, 2011 attack on Barbara Miller’s family of Mesopotamia. Barbara Miller, 57, told Trumbull County Sheriff’s detectives investigating the attack that she and her husband, Martin, 57, were attacked by close family members.

It’s the earliest of the five documented instances, where members of Sam Mullet’s group is accused of assaulting those who defected, held them down and cut their hair or beards with scissors or clippers.

The affidavit and reports said Eli, Lester and Raymond Miller, all Sam Mullet’s nephews, along with Anna Miller and Freeman Burkholder, who is married to one of Sam Mullet’s nieces, went into Barbara Miller’s 4088 state Route 87 home about 10:30 a.m., Sept. 6, held them down, cut her husband’s beard and cut her hair, which she had hidden under a bandanna when investigators arrived at the house.

Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry. One victim told the FBI he would rather have been “beaten black and blue than to suffer the disfigurement and humiliation of having his hair removed,” according to the affidavit.

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