Ohio judge sends Amish beard-cutting case to felony court, continues bond for 5 defendants

Published: Saturday, October 22, 2011 @ 10:42 AM
Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2011 @ 10:42 AM

The Associated Press

MILLERSBURG, Ohio — The case against five members of a breakaway Amish group accused of forcefully cutting the beard of an Amish bishop in Ohio has been sent to felony court.

According to The (Wooster) Daily Record, they appeared in court Wednesday with their attorney.

They were charged with kidnapping and burglary for allegedly cutting the beard of the bishop in a dispute over church discipline.

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The leader of the Amish group with members accused of going into the home of another Amish man and cutting his hair and beard said  it's a religious matter and police shouldn't be involved.

Sam Mullet said he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop two of his sons and another man from carrying it out last week on a 74-year-old man in his home in rural eastern Ohio.

Mullet, 66, said the goal of the hair-cutting was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.

"They changed the rulings of our church here, and they're trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we're not going to do that," Mullet told The Associated Press outside his house on the outskirts of Bergholz, a village of about 700 residents.

"We know what we did and why we did it," he continued. "We excommunicated some members here because they didn't want to obey the rules of the church."

Mullet said he's upset that his group, about 120 people living on several small farms, has been called a cult by detractors.

Leaders within the Amish community faced a soul-searching question after the hair-cutting attacks.

Should they cooperate with authorities or follow the deeply held belief of forgiveness toward one another?

In the end, they decided the only way to stop the attacks was to seek help from the outside.

Ohio has an estimated Amish population of just under 61,000 — second only to Pennsylvania