Alleged Amish Beard Cutting Photo Released
CLEVELAND — A new photo is released in the trial of an Amish leader, and more than a dozen of his followers, accused of committing hate crimes against fellow Amish members.
There was also dramatic testimony Wednesday as two alleged victims took the stand.
The trial at U.S. District Court in downtown Cleveland is getting national attention. The defendants are accused of disfiguring their alleged victims over an internal religious dispute.
Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster released a picture that federal prosecutors already released into evidence, that they say was taken in October of last year.
They say it shows a follower of Sam Mullet, 66, holding down and cutting off the beard of Raymond Hershberger.
Hershberger’s son Andy took the stand and testified that he and his father were both attacked by Mullet’s followers.
Hershberger, an Amish bishop, had previously been ex-communicated, or shunned by Mullet.
Prosecutors say Mullet became angry that a meeting of 300 bishops overturned several of his ex-communications, which allowed the people he had kicked out of the faith to join other Amish communities.
They say he ordered 15 followers, now his co-defendants, to attack fellow Amish who he felt had betrayed the faith.
In Amish culture, the hair and beards are considered sacred religious symbols for men and women.
Cutting them is considered insulting, degrading and even disfiguring.
Also on Wednesday, Barbara Miller testified that last September, she and her husband, Marty, were attacked by five of Mullet’s followers, including their own son.
Prosecutors say her husband’s beard was sheared and two feet of her own hair was cut.
Fifteen other defendants are accused of conspiring against the victims. Each one is represented by his own attorney. The trial is expected to last several weeks.