Editor's note: Three weeks ago AC360's Gary Tuchman reported on the beard-cutting attacks in an Ohio Amish community. Tonight, he'll cover the latest news with details of the charges brought against seven men in a breakaway Amish group.
(CNN) - Seven members of a breakaway Amish group in eastern Ohio were arrested on federal hate crime charges for allegedly shaving the beards and cutting the hair of individuals who refused to support their leader, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday.
One of the seven men is Samuel Mullet Sr., the leader of the breakaway sect and a man that local law enforcement and other Amish in the area consider a cult leader.
Mullet ruled the group with an iron fist, in some cases "forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop" and beating those "who appear to disobey" him, according to an FBI affidavit.
Mullet had been "counseling" married women in his sect, "taking them into his home so that he may cleanse them of the devil with acts of sexual intimacy," the sworn statement from an FBI agent said.
Editor's note: AC360's Gary Tuchman spoke with Sam Mullet, the Bishop of a breakaway Amish group. Three of his sons are suspected of perpetrating the beard-cutting attacks. Tune in at 8 p.m. ET for his report and a fascinating discussion about the significance of the crimes.
Bergholz, Ohio (CNN) – Members of the Amish community in eastern Ohio are the subject of a federal investigation following a wave of Amish-on-Amish incidents, FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson confirmed to CNN Wednesday.
Five men have been arrested and charged with kidnapping and burglary stemming from an incident at the home of Myron and Arlene Miller in early October in which the group of men pulled Myron out of the home by his beard, held him down, and cut off large portions of the beard. An Amish man's beard is a significant symbol of his faith.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla, the incident at the Millers' home was one of a handful of incidents throughout several counties in which as many as 30 men and women carried out similar attacks.
Additional arrests stemming from the other attacks aren't likely, Abdalla said, because the other victims have not pressed charges. It is Amish tradition to solve conflicts by means of their faith and church, without the involvement of law enforcement.
The perpetrators are believed to be followers of a breakaway Amish group led by Sam Mullet. Of the five that have been arrested, three are Mullet's sons.
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