7 Amish now face federal hate-crime charges
Federal agents arrested the leader of a renegade Amish group and six others in eastern Ohio yesterday and charged them with hate crimes for a series of beard- and hair-cutting assaults against Amish men and women.
In a case that drew wide attention because of the unusual nature of the attacks, five of the men were arrested last month on kidnapping and other state charges and were out on bail. At the time of those arrests, officials said that the founder of the breakaway group, Sam Mullet, 66, had not taken part directly in the nighttime assaults against his perceived enemies, and he was not initially charged.
But at 6 a.m. yesterday, the FBI and local sheriffs raided the splinter settlement near the village of Bergholz, arresting Mullet, three of his sons and three other followers on federal hate-crime and conspiracy charges.
“We believe these attacks were religiously motivated,” Steven M. Dettelbach, the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Ohio, said in a telephone interview. “While people are free to disagree about religion in this country, we don’t settle those disagreements with late-night visits, dangerous weapons and violent attacks.”