YOUNGSTOWN - A U.S. Northern District Court magistrate said Wednesday that four Amish men facing federal hate crime charges for cutting the hair and beards of dissenters are a threat to other Amish and ordered them held without bail.
''I consider these violent acts,'' Magistrate Judge George Limbert said. ''They are a danger to the Amish community. I don't consider them a threat outside the Amish community.''
Limbert also found that probable cause exists to try Sam Mullet, his sons Daniel and Johnny, and Emanuel Shrock, all of Bergholz.
His order came at the end of a five-hour hearing on whether they should be granted bail or if probable cause existed to try them.
Also charged are Levi Miller, Eli Miller and Lester Mullet. They will have their hearings at 10 a.m. Friday.
The seven were arrested early Nov. 23 and face federal charges of hate crimes, hate crime acts and conspiracy to commit hate crimes. They could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Sam Mullet has been portrayed as the leader of an offshoot religious group that has been cutting hair and beards of dissenters, and U.S. Assistant Attorney Bridget Brennan said Sam Mullet is dangerous because of the control and influence he exerts in the community. Limbert agreed.
''It appears to me that Sam Mullet has absolute control of the community,'' Limbert said.
Robert Duffrin, who represented Daniel Mullet, said the disagreement between Sam Mullet and the others is not so much a religious dispute as a power struggle.
''This is an internal power struggle between the groups,'' Duffrin said.
The case first surfaced in September and October, when several Amish had their hair and beards cut in attacks authorities say were orchestrated by Samuel Mullett over religious differences. One of those attacks took place in Trumbull County Sept. 6 at a state Route 87 home in Mesopotamia.
Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.
Five of the men were indicted in Holmes County on state charges, but those charges were dismissed when the federal charges were filed.
FBI Special Agent Michael Sirohman testified that members of the community told him they were ordered to stay in a chicken coop for offenses by Sam Mullet and that they also spoke of the hair cutting while they were in jail on the state charges and that Sam Mullet knew of the attacks and said he could order more.
Ed Bryan, lawyer for Sam Mullet, said the charges against his client ''involve rumor, speculation and innuendo.''
Limbert said because of the potential life penalty he considered all four men flight risks. About 15 members of the Mullet family were in the courtroom and sat through the entire hearing.
Lawyers for the four in Wednesday's hearing said they are not a flight risk because of their large families and the fact they have lived in the community their whole lives. They also said the offenses are not hate crimes and if they are to be tried, they should be tried at the state level.