Ohio Amish set for sentencing in beard attacks
His community had contact with other Amish groups, often because of family ties throughout the region or when gathering at livestock auctions or to buy farming equipment.
Some Amish spoke out against his authoritarian style, and the government said that led to the attacks as Mullet tried to discipline dissenters who left his community and Amish bishops who condemned him.
Arlene Miller, 48, of Carrollton, whose husband, an Amish bishop, was among the victims, said she thinks Mullet deserves a tough sentence and the others should get less time if they get cult deprogramming counseling.
"It's a cult," she said. "Their minds were programmed in the wrong way by Sam Mullet, so we feel like these people are very deceived and they are actually victims of Sam Mullet."
She said there were no winners in the ordeal. "There's no happy ending to this," she said.
Some Amish remain fearful of Mullet, whose family denies his community is a cult.
"I don't want Sam Mullet to be around my nieces and nephews for the threats he made and things he done. So please keep Sam in jail," one person said in a letter to the court. The name and hometown were blocked in the court filing because of fear of retaliation.
"Please understand that we have many fears of him being released," another writer said. Prosecutors submitted 14 letters, some warning that Mullet and his family would disturb the peace of the Amish community. One called Mullet an evil, dangerous person.
The government asked for a life sentence for Mullet, saying he orchestrated the attacks and controlled members of his Amish settlement and frazzled nerves in quiet Amish communities in Ohio and neighboring states. His attorney asked for a sentence of 1½ to two years.
The government said the cuttings were an attempt to shame members Mullet believed were straying from their beliefs. His followers were found guilty of carrying out the attacks.
Mast said that women whose husbands are facing prison are anxious for them to return home, and that the children ask about their fathers.
"They're always talking about the day when Dad comes home again; what they are going to do and what they want to do," Mast said.
Nine of 10 men who were convicted have been locked up awaiting sentencing. The six women, who all have children, one with 11, have been free on bond. The defendants were charged with a hate crime because prosecutors believe religious differences brought about the attacks.
Mast said the Mullet community has been steadfast in its belief that the beard- and hair-cutting attacks didn't rise to the level of a hate crime, but amounted to discipline amid a church feud that shouldn't involve civil authorities.
"The beard, what it stands for me, what I know about it, once you're married you just grow a beard, that's just the way the Amish is," Mast said.
As for the victims, he added, "They got their beard back again, so what's the big deal about it?"