Twelve Amish men face hate crime charges for cutting off the beards of members from a rivaling Amish group. One of the group leaders has now stepped forward, to add reason behind the assaults.
The group, which was led by 66-year-old Samuel Mullet, was initially excommunicated by the Amish community in Ohio. Now Mullet says that the attacks began over religious tension after he felt his group was greatly mistreated.
Mullet admonished the Ohio group and said that they should be ashamed of themselves. “We'd like to get up in the morning, be left alone, live like normal people," Mullet said Monday according to Wall Street. "They won't leave us be."
Mullet said the issues began after the Holmes County group changed the rulings of the church and his own community disagreed. Mullets breakaway group has been referred to as a cult.
Mullet dismissed such claims. "We're not a cult. We're just trying to live a peaceful life," he said. "I was hoping I could move here, try to start a group of church people, do things in school and church the way we wanted."
Hair maintenance is an important aspect to traditional Amish views where women do not cut hair, and men do not trim their beards after they are married. Some charged that Mullet instructed others to make the assaults. The men entered the home and said, "Sam Mullet sent us here, and we're here on religious business," said Country Sherriff Fred Abdalla.
Assaults have included the breaking and entering of homes as well as both men and women having their hair cut off. “Those people don't make a move out there without his (Mullet’s) orders," Abdalla told The Huffington Post. "He calls all the shots."
Authorities told HuffPost Crime that they are planning to arrest at least four men who Sheriff Fred Abdalla said has clashed with other Amish leaders for years.