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FBI Raid Nabs 7 Suspected In Amish Beard Attacks

Sam Mullet outside his home in Bergholz, Ohio, earlier this year.
Amy Sancetta
Sam Mullet outside his home in Bergholz, Ohio, earlier this year.

"The FBI and local sheriff's deputies this morning raided an Amish compound in Ohio and arrested seven men, including reputed breakaway sect leader Sam Mullet, on federal hate crimes charges and related state violations in connection to a series of beard-cutting attacks against other Amish across Ohio," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

And The Associated Press writes that Mullet "allowed the beatings of those who disobeyed him, made some members sleep in a chicken coop and had sexual relations with married women to 'cleanse them,' federal authorities said as they charged him and six others with hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks against other Amish."

Five of the same men were facing state charges that were filed last month. The local prosecutor says he's going to dismiss those counts and "let federal prosecutors take the lead," the AP adds.

As NPR's Barbara Bradley Haggerty has reported, the Amish community in Ohio is reeling from the attacks. And sociologist Donald Kraybill told Barbara that Mullet acts much like a cult leader.

"He's not accountable to anyone. He's not in fellowship with other Amish groups. He thinks he is invincible," Kraybill said. "So under the guise of religion he is trying to protect himself, so he can do whatever he wants to do."

Mullet, as Barbara reported, insists his behavior is protected religious activity.

"Cutting the hair," the AP adds, "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."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.