Those concerns were fueled by Mullet’s own words after three of his sons were arrested for beard-cutting attacks last October. In a secretly recorded phone call from the Holmes County Jail, Lester Mullet told his father he was concerned his children might be taken from him.
“Samuel Mullet Sr. responded that somebody will’get killed’ before that happened,” according to an FBI transcript of the conversation.
Mullet’s lawyer scoffs at the prosecution’s portrayal of his client.
“They’re trying to create this perception he’s something he’s not,” said defense attorney Edward Bryan. “He’s not a wacky cult leader. He’s a decent, hardworking, caring man.”
But in 2005, eight families — including one of Mullet’s sons — chose to break away and move to Amish enclaves in different counties rather that submit themselves to Mullet’s strict and sometimes violent discipline.
Mullet responded by shunning, and later excommunicating, all members of the departed families from the church. After a conclave of 300 mainstream Amish church leaders met in Pennsylvania to address Mullet’s practices, a seven-member committee investigated and overturned Mullet’s excommunication orders.