Bergholz members determined to preserve group

From the AP story on the last community meeting in Bergholz, before five more enter prison Friday:

Martha Mullet said she believes the government is trying to split up the community, but members are determined to ensure the survival of the breakaway group her husband founded.

Those who were attacked allege he led in authoritarian style, and at least one person described it as a cult where members’ “minds were programmed in the wrong way by Sam Mullet.”

Mullet’s family denounces that description. Such communities typically limit interaction with news media, but members of Mullet’s group in Bergholz said they were willing to talk because they feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the justice system.

Prosecutors brought hate crime charges because they said they believed the attacks were spurred by religious differences.

The defendants don’t deny the hair-cuttings — some say they regret what happened, others don’t — but contend they stemmed from family disputes that should have been handled internally. They say they’re bound by different rules guided by their religion, that the government had no business getting involved in what they did and that calling it a hate crime was overreaching.

“We’re not exactly saying it was wrong, and we don’t say it’s right, either. … It’s something that will never happen again, I can tell you that,” Wilma Mullet, a daughter of Sam Mullet. She was not among those charged.

Nine from the Bergholz community are already behind bars.  Sam Mullet and others imprisoned recently claimed cruel and unusual punishment, due to their being held in prisons spread across the country, and asked to be released pending appeal.

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    1. Jeannie

      I read the sentence and thought the 10 years if I understand correctly is a bit harsh, given the fact that many people who do far worse crimes barely get that!

      Then again that is why I am not a judge and on a In a way I wonder what was taken into account from those who were the victims of such cutting, were they asked what punishment would be rightly justified in their eyes to be placed upon the people who took part in this? All I can say is I hope that whatever may come that lessons are learned here and that they will come to truly know JESUS and not just follow orders of some human man that claims to have authority…

      1. Bergholz sentences and early release

        The sentences were 15 years for Sam Mullet, and varying sentences of 1-7 years for the others.

        The article mentioned the possibility of time off for good behavior, which confused me as I thought parole was not a possibility for federal offenses. Parole apparently doesn’t come into play for federal crimes anymore, but there is apparently “Good Conduct Time”:

        Under U.S. federal law, prisoners serving more than one year in prison get 54 days a year of good time for every year they serve.[1] Thus, a prisoner who is sentenced to 419 days (365 + 54 days) in prison will only serve about 365 days. Thus, prisoners who demonstrate good behavior only serve about 87.1% of their total sentences.

    2. B. Ro

      Break up

      It is very hard to break up an abusive family. It is reasonable to separate them for a long time to let people settle into a different way of life if they are so inclined. The convicts may be able to continue their relationships long distance.

      So the wife may be correct that they will keep on going. It was interesting the vigor with with someone said that they were not going to descend into hair cutting again. Time will tell.

    3. KimH

      There are still people in prison for smoking one marijuana joint or having less than an oz on them.. how the system determines punishment is beyond me, thank God. I dont want to know.

      If someone had attacked a man because he was black or because he was a Catholic, there would be plenty of folks angry and the penalties for those hate crimes would be considered justified. Its the same thing.. I dont care if you’re Amish, English, or a space alien.. its the way our system works. If you dont like it, go somewhere else or work from the inside to try to change it.

    4. Erin

      My Mom just sent me the link to pictures taken at the end of the school year celebration and farewell gathering for those being sentenced to prison.;contentMain

      I really enjoyed the pictures, especially the one of the little girl trying to mount a pony.

    5. Barb

      Interesting pictures. Thank you Erin and your mom.

    6. stephanie

      Bottom line. You can not assault people in their homes (or in your own for that matter!)Or even if it is your own family. It is against the law. Besides, the “family dispute” was over religion. Being nonresistant they should abide by the descision of the government authorities (as it says in the Confessions of faith) and accept the punishment for the crime they committed. The peoblem with committing a crime is you never know if the judge will be harsh or lenient. That is why a wise man does not commit one. The family will not condem the act! If this man comes back as the head of the group who knows what he will do next. Or have his “followers” do to other Amish

    7. Tom Geist

      That's what they all say....

      >>>They say they’re bound by different rules guided by their religion, that the government had no business getting involved in what they did and that calling it a hate crime was overreaching.<<<

      That's what all the nut job groups say when they do something horrendous and don't want others calling them on it.

      Tom in Lincoln, NE

      1. ann

        Exactly. And they all truly believe it.
        Looking at the photos at the link in one of the other comments- the saddest thing to me is looks on the faces of the women pictured who were going off to prison. They look proud of the attention they’re getting…or something.
        I also found the pictures fascinating because of things I heard from an aunt who has in-laws in the community where people were attacked. Hard to picture the garbage that supposedly goes on in this group. But I believe her, for the most part. Gives me the willies, frankly. And, it’s heartbreaking to see all the small children and to realize that they are growing up in an atmosphere where this is all normal.

    8. Bergholz appeals

      A report on the appeals process of the Bergholz group:

      Among other arguments, defendants in their appeals have challenged the use of the federal hate crime statute under which they were prosecuted. They have said they were wrongfully prosecuted because their actions amounted to family disputes that resulted in no serious physical injury. They also have said the judge should have instructed jurors that religion had to be the primary motivating factor and not just one of the factors to justify use of that statute.

      The prosecution argued in its response the statute does not require that religion be the primary motivating factor.

      Prosecutors also say the statute, which requires interstate commerce to be a factor in a crime, was applied correctly in the case. At trial, prosecutors argued that the scissors, shears and clippers used in the attacks had traveled across state lines.