Feb 24, 2017

Supreme Court will not hear Amish bishop Sam Mullet's appeal in beard-cutting case

Eric Heisig
February 22, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up the case of imprisoned Amish bishop Sam Mullet, who was convicted of orchestrating a series of beard and hair-cutting attacks on his enemies.

Mullet, 71, is the only one of the 16 defendants federally prosecuted to remain in prison. A federal appeals court
rejected his appeal in May and the U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday to not review the lower court's decision.

Ed Bryan, Mullet's attorney, said he was disappointed in the high court's decision.

Mullet is the leader of a breakaway sect of an Amish community made up of 18 families in the village of Bergholz, located about 100 miles southeast of Cleveland. They were convicted of several crimes in September 2012 for carrying out five nighttime raids in 2011.

Members of the community rousted five victims out of bed and chopped off their beards and hair with horse mane shears and battery-powered clippers. The attackers documented the attacks with a disposable camera.

Men's beards and women's hair have spiritual significance to the Amish.

Prosecutors brought hate-crime and obstruction charges against 16 members of the Amish community. They said the attacks were carried out at the behest of Bishop Samuel Mullet against the bishop's enemies. Witnesses portrayed him as a fire-and-brimstone preacher who imposed strict, and often bizarre, discipline on his flock.

The 6th Circuit later overturned the hate-crime convictions, citing faulty jury instructions. Cleveland-based U.S. District Judge Dan Polster re-sentenced all of them to shorter sentences in March 2015, and noted that it was clear that the attacks were religiously motivated.

Bryan said his client has been jailed for longer than any other defendant, yet he was the only one who didn't cut anybody's hair or beard.

He noted that Mullet's wife died while he was in prison.

Mullet is serving his sentence in a prison camp in Lisbon. Bryan said Mullet recently underwent triple-bypass heart surgery.

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