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Entries in Amish (9)

Monday
Aug272012

Amish Beard-Cutting Trial: Jury Selection Underway in Cleveland

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND, Ohio) -- Jury selection began Monday in the hate crimes trial of Samuel Mullet Sr. and 15 followers of his breakaway sect, who are accused of forcibly cutting the beards and hair of other Amish men and women.

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster began the morning interviewing 81 people in the jury pool, asking them their views on whether the government has the right to file charges based on religion, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

The defendants have maintained the alleged attacks were a matter of internal discipline and not connected to any religious bias. All 16 defendants have pleaded not guilty, many rejecting plea deals that would have sent them to prison for two to three years.

But at least one of the criminal complaints filed against bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. and members of his family claimed that the group was waging a violent campaign targeted at community members on the other side of a church feud.

The government revealed Friday that horse mane shears, along with hair samples, recorded jailhouse phone calls, and a camera they say was used to photograph the victims have been entered in the Cleveland court as evidence in the case.

The trial of members of a breakaway Amish sect charged with hate crimes for cutting off the beards and hair of other Amish men and women is set to begin Monday in an Ohio court.

They now face potentially lengthy federal prison sentences if they are convicted of conspiracy to violate the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The Amish believe the Bible instructs men to wear beards and stop shaving once they marry and for women grow their hair long.

"Victims will testify that the loss of their beards caused them great distress and embarrassment and altered their life activities to the point that they did not want to appear in public," prosecutors said, seeking to back their hate crimes charge.

Court documents trace the root of the conflict back to 2005, when members reportedly began leaving Mullet's sect because of his controlling behavior.

His former daughter- and son-in-law told investigators that Mullet exercised complete authority over the group, causing physical injury to those who would defy him. This included, they said, forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop on his property and suffer public beatings.

He also allegedly "counseled" married women by having sex with them in his home.

Prosecutors say Mullet, accompanied by his sons, sons-in-law, and nephews, hired a driver -- the Amish cannot operate motor vehicles and often travel by horse-drawn buggie -- to take them to the home of one of the church bishops who had spoken out against him.

They then allegedly knocked on the door, pulled the man out of his house and assaulted him and his son, who tried to intervene. Prosecutors say the group pulled at and cut their beard hair, then took photographs of the victims before fleeing the scene en route to another attack.

An updated 10-count indictment tendered in March alleges that the men and women -- also members of the same extended family -- had tried to hide or destroy evidence, including a pair of shears and a bag of hair. Mullet was also charged with lying to federal agents when he denied knowing of an October assault. He faces life in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug262012

Amish Hair-Cutting Hate Crime Trial Set to Begin

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND, Ohio) -- The trial of members of a breakaway Amish sect charged with hate crimes for cutting off the beards and hair of other Amish men and women is set to begin Monday in an Ohio court.

The government revealed Friday that horse mane shears, along with hair samples, recorded jailhouse phone calls, and a camera they say was used to photograph the victims have been entered as evidence in the case.

All 16 defendants have pleaded not guilty, many rejecting plea deals that would have sent them to prison for two to three years. They say the alleged attacks were a matter of internal discipline and not connected to any religious bias.

But at least one of the criminal complaints filed against bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. and members of his family claimed that the group was waging a violent campaign targeted at community members on the other side of a church feud.

They now face potentially lengthy federal prison sentences if they are convicted of conspiracy to violate the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The Amish believe the Bible instructs men to wear beards and stop shaving once they marry and for women grow their hair long.

"Victims will testify that the loss of their beards caused them great distress and embarrassment and altered their life activities to the point that they did not want to appear in public," prosecutors said, seeking to back their hate crimes charge.

Court documents trace the root of the conflict back to 2005, when members reportedly began leaving Mullet's sect because of his controlling behavior.

His former daughter- and son-in-law told investigators that Mullet exercised complete authority over the group, causing physical injury to those who would defy him. This included, they said, forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop on his property and suffer public beatings.

He also allegedly "counseled" married women by having sex with them in his home.

Prosecutors say Mullet, accompanied by his sons, sons-in-law, and nephews, hired a driver -- the Amish cannot operate motor vehicles and often travel by horse-drawn buggie -- to take them to the home of one of the church bishops who had spoken out against him.

They then allegedly knocked on the door, pulled the man out of his house and assaulted him and his son, who tried to intervene. Prosecutors say the group pulled at and cut their beard hair, then took photographs of the victims before fleeing the scene en route to another attack.

An updated 10-count indictment tendered in March alleges that the men and women -- also members of the same extended family -- had tried to hide or destroy evidence, including a pair of shears and a bag of hair. Mullet was also charged with lying to federal agents when he denied knowing of an October assault. He faces life in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

Amish Girl Buggy Shooting ‘Freak Accident’

File image. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ohio) -- The shooting death of a 15-year-old Amish girl in Ohio, originally labeled a homicide, now appears to be an accident, according to police.

Rachel Yoder was shot in the head Thursday night as she rode in a horse-drawn buggy on the way home from a Christmas party in rolling farmland southwest of Canton. At first, a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Now, investigators say the death appears to be a freak accident.

Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly told ABC News an Amish man has come forward to say he was preparing to clean his muzzle-loaded rifle after deer hunting and fired it into the air. Zimmerly says the bullet from his rifle “is consistent with” the one that struck the girl riding in a buggy more than a mile away.

The investigation continues and no charges have been filed against the Amish hunter, who voluntarily notified authorities after he heard Rachel Yoder had been shot the same night that he was cleaning his gun.

Yoder was riding alone in the buggy, returning from a Christmas party for employees who work at an Amish produce farm. The shooting took place in the same area of Ohio where seven Amish men have been charged in beard-cutting attacks in a dispute over church discipline, but authorities say there is no connection between those attacks and the girl’s shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

7 Amish Men Charged with Hate Crimes for Beard Cutting Spree

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(MILLERSBURG, Ohio) -- Seven Amish men have been charged with hate crimes for cutting the beards and hair of Amish men in a different religious sect.

The men, all family members of Bishop Samuel Mullet, Sr., allegedly forcibly restrained multiple Amish men and cut their beards and hair with scissors and battery powered clippers, injuring the men and others who tried to stop the attacks, according to a statement by the Department of Justice.

The attacks grew out of a religious feud between Mullet and the wider church, according to the criminal complaint against the Mullet family.

Mullet, as the head of the Bergholz clan sect of the church, excommunicated eight families who chose to leave the sect under his rule. His decision was investigated by the 300-member bishops council of the Amish church, which determined that the excommunications were vindictive and unfair, and overruled them.

The members allegedly began leaving the sect in 2005 because of Mullet's controlling behavior, according to the complaint. Mullet's former daughter-in-law and son-in-law told investigators that Mullet exercised complete control over the group, causing physical injury to those who defy him, including forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop on his property and allowing public beatings. He also allegedly "counseled" married women by having sex with them in his home.

Mullet, accompanied by his sons, sons-in-law, and nephews, hired a driver to take them and their horse-drawn buggy to the home of one of the bishops that ruled against him. They knocked on the door and told the man they wished to speak with him, according to the complaint, and then assaulted the man and his son, known as Victims 1 and 2. They then pulled and cut their beard hair. They took pictures of the results and took the pictures with them, the document says.

The group then went to another victim's house and assaulted him, caused him pain, and then pulled and cut his hair as well, court documents state.

The hired driver that took the men to commit the crimes testified as a witness against them in the complaint.

Mullet's son-in-law, Emanuel Shrock, sent three letters to a fourth victim, convincing him to come to Shrock's home in Bergholz, Ohio, and then with the aid of others cut that victim's beard as well.

Johnny Mullet, Lester Mullet, Eli Miller, Daniel Mullet, and Levi Miller all confessed their involvement in the crimes to the FBI.

The suspects are charged with conspiring to violate the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct102011

Arrests in Ohio Amish Beard- and Hair-Cut Attacks

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- Three men from a renegade Amish sect accused in a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks that terrorized the Amish community remained in police custody Monday, while Ohio police said they expected to make more arrests.

The Jefferson County Police Department identified the men in custody as Johnny Mullet, 38, Lester Mullet, 26, and Levi Miller, 53.

The attackers are believed to be from a group of people who were once Amish, but have now gathered together near Bergholz, Ohio, in Jefferson County, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The group consists of about 18 families, most of whom are related.

Sheriff Fred Abdulla of the Jefferson County Police Department told the Post-Gazette that the attacks seemed to be tied to criticism of the group's leader, Bishop Sam Mullet, received four years ago when 300 other bishops questioned his leadership abilities.

"They brought him on the carpet and he told them to go to hell. He thumbed his nose at them," Abdulla said.

Although police said at least five families had been victimized by the group, they were only able to take action after two of the men who were attacked agreed to press charges, which is not a common practice in the Amish community.

"[The Amish] are loath to press charges because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about nonviolence and not using force [or the force of law] in their daily life," Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College and an expert on Amish life, told ABC News.

The attacks carry tremendous symbolism and show the attackers' degradation of the Amish faith, where men grow their beards after marriage and women do not cut their hair in order to adhere to Biblical teachings.

Myron Miller, one of the men pressing charges, was attacked last Wednesday night at his Mechanicstown, Ohio, home. Miller's 15-year-old daughter answered the door after a group of four to six men knocked. They asked for her father, who is the bishop for the Mechanicstown Amish church, the Post-Gazette reported.

When Miller appeared at the door, according to the newspaper account, a man grabbed him by his beard and forced him out the front door.

The attackers then cut out a chunk of the bishop's beard with scissors, according to the account. Miller struggled to get away, and the attackers were unable to cut off his entire beard. The leader of the attackers ordered the group to flee.

The three men are being held on charges of kidnapping and burglary.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct092011

Ohio Amish Attacked by Beard- and Hair-Cutters

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Three Amish men have been arrested in connection with several attacks in eastern Ohio, according to published reports.

The suspects are believed to have attacked several Amish people by cutting their hair and beards cut off.

The attacks occurred on five families over the past three weeks in Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson and Trumbull counties, which form the heart of one of the nation's largest Amish populations.

The attackers are believed to be from a group of people who were once Amish, but have now gathered together near Bergholz in Jefferson County, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The group consists of about 18 families, most of whom are related. The group's compound includes a number of houses and barns.

The formerly Amish group has drawn the attention of law enforcement before over an alleged threat against law enforcement and a relative who was convicted of sexual contact with a minor, according to ABC News affiliate WTAE.

On Wednesday night, a pickup truck and a trailer pulled into the driveway of Myron and Arlene Miller around 10:45 p.m., according to the Post-Gazette. Four to six men knocked on the door. When the Millers' 15-year-old daughter answered, they asked for her father, who is the bishop for the Mechanicstown Amish church, the paper reported.

When Miller appeared at the door, according to the newspaper account, a man grabbed him by his beard and forced him out the front door.

"The other guys came up and surrounded him," Arlene Miller told the Post-Gazette.

The attackers then cut out a chunk of the bishop's beard with scissors, according to the account. Miller struggled to get away, and the attackers were unable to cut off his entire beard. The leader of the attackers ordered the group to flee.

Miller, in addition to another man who was assaulted on Wednesday night, has decided to press criminal charges, which is not common practice among the Amish.

"[The Amish] are loath to press charges because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about nonviolence and not using force [or the force of law] in their daily life," Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College and an expert on Amish life, told ABC News.

"This story is very odd and clearly outlier behavior, an aberration in Amish society," he said. "Amish-on-Amish violence is extremely rare. In some cases, it happens when someone has a psychological disorder and/or during Rumspringa, when some youth engage in mischief or pranks that can go awry."

Cutting the victims' beards is degrading and insulting in the Amish culture.

"Wearing a beard is a common and required practice for all married Amish men," Kraybill said. "Likewise, women do not cut their hair based on biblical teaching. These appear to be malicious assaults on symbols of Amish identity by a renegade little group of Amish origin who, for whatever reason, have been estranged from other Amish groups."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Monroe Beachy, 'Amish Bernie Madoff,' Indicted in $16.8M Fraud Scheme

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(SUGARCREEK, Ohio) -- Monroe Beachy, a 77-year-old Amish man accused of running a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme, was charged with mail fraud Thursday after allegedly defrauding thousands of people out of $16.8 million over two decades.

Beachy allegedly told investors his Ohio business in Sugarcreek, A&M Investments, would invest in mortgage-backed security Ginnie Mae Bond Funds, but he put investors' money in government bond funds, individual stocks and mutual funds instead.

Thursday's grand jury indictment accuses Beachy of mailing "false monthly and quarterly investment statements to A&M investors" in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere.

"As a result of Monroe L. Beachy's fraudulent conduct, approximately 2,698 people and entities, including but not limited to the Amish Helping Fund, sustained a combined loss in excess of approximately $16.8 million," the indictment stated.

When reached by phone, Beachy claimed he didn't know anything about the indictment.

"Several people have called but I don't know what's going on," he said.

Beachy also said he doesn't have a lawyer and doesn't know if he will hire one.

Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said Beachy "will be allowed to turn himself in."

He may be in court as early as next week and could face up to 20 years in prison.

Media headlines have compared Beachy to Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor who choreographed a $50 billion Ponzi scheme since the early '90s, because of the long period in which they both falsified positive returns to investors.

Beachy raised at least $33 million, according to an S.E.C. complaint filed in February.

As part of the S.E.C. investigation, Beachy filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2010 with a court in the Northern District of Ohio. Court documents indicated he has less than $18 million of investors' money left.

In an unusual twist, according to a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings filed by members of the Amish community, about 2,550, or 94 percent, of creditors were in favor of dismissal.

Daniel Miller, 55, of Sugarcreek, Ohio, was one of 2,600 creditors in 29 states, mostly from the Amish community, who invested money with Beachy.

"I think the Amish can do a lot better job for the creditors than what the government can do," Miller told ABC News in February. "Instead of the bankruptcy attorneys handling everything and dragging into the court system, they will take it and distribute it to the creditors involved. It makes more sense to me."

Beachy also filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings.

Miller said it is common for members of the Amish community to pool their money together, as they did with Beachy, and try to settle disputes among themselves. He said Beachy did not pocket the collected money, and instead lived a simple lifestyle, even with a horse and buggy.

Tim Warren, associate regional director in the Chicago office of the S.E.C., conceded that Beachy was not living an extravagant lifestyle, unlike other fraudulent financial managers.

"I think this case is unique because he was not pocketing investor money like other cases," said Warren. "Here, he wasn't."

Miller said he drives a car but still adheres to the principles of the Amish community of simplicity and generosity towards others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

Indiana Amish Man Charged with Sexting a 12-Year-Old

Courtesy of Connersville Police Department(MILFORD, Ind.) -- An Amish man from Milford, Ind., who pulled into a police sting operation in a horse and buggy has been charged with soliciting a 12-year-old girl via sexting.

Willard Yoder, 21, allegedly sent more than 600 text, picture and video messages to the local girl that he didn't know, including solicitations for sex and naked images of himself.

She is not Amish.

"[Yoder] told me several times that he just randomly chose that [telephone] number," Det. Craig Pennington of the Connersville Police Department said. "He just punched a number, hoping for a reply. If that is true, that's kind of scary because I'm sure that's not the first time that ever happened."

Alarmed by the disturbing messages, the girl told her mother, who later informed the police.

The Connersville Police Department set up a sting operation at a local restaurant in Milford, with an undercover cop posing as the girl. According to police reports, Yoder sent five messages intended for the victim asking, "Are you ready for tonight?"

He pulled up to the sting in a basic, black, two-person horse and buggy.

Once police confirmed via exchanged text messages that Yoder was the alleged perpetrator, they arrested him, securing his cellphone and his horse and buggy.

Yoder admitted to sending all the messages to the child via his cellphone and was charged with four counts of soliciting a minor, police said.

While the victim's family seemed relieved after the arrest, the child's father, who asked for anonymity, was outraged by the initial messages.

"When the pictures started coming in, and they got more graphic, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is unbelievable," he told ABC's Indiana affiliate, WRTV6.

Milford residents told the station they are accustomed to seeing Amish people with cellphones, even though their community usually shuns technology.

Yoder posted bond of $5,000 per charge. A preliminary trial date was set for Sept. 19.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb252011

Four Amish Children Swept Away in Storm

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MAYFIELD, Ky.) -- Four Amish children were swept away in a deluge Thursday night in Kentucky.

Officials discovered the bodies of the four children who were riding in a buggy during a severe storm that caused flash floods in parts of the Southeast. The children fell into the water following an accident around 8:30 p.m.

The identities of the children have yet to be released.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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