The leader of an Amish cult — who allegedly ordered followers to forcibly cut the beards and hair of those who criticized his leadership — was sentenced to 15 years in prison, reported the Associated Press.
The 67-year-old Samuel Mullet Sr. was convicted not just of assault but of hate crimes, as prosecutors said the victims’ right to religious expression was violated — a right that the judge said each of the convicted had enjoyed under the First Amendment, as they had been exempt from duties such as jury service.
Mullet, who started his own group in 1995, denied the charges.
Fifteen others implicated in the crimes were sentenced to between one and seven years in prison, reported the New York Times.
Amish men are instructed not to cut their beards after marriage and women are instructed not to cut their hair, reported the AP.
“The victims were terrorized and traumatized,” said U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster.
The sentence sat between what the government asked for — life in prison — and what the defense sought, which was at most two years.
Five attacks took place in Ohio in the fall of 2011, reported CNN.
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