Ohio Defense: Gov't demonizing Amish leader

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The defense for a breakaway Amish leader charged in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio complained Monday that the government is trying to demonize him to keep him locked up pending trial.

The attorney for Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, told a federal judge that the government is trying to invoke the memory of a deadly 1993 Waco, Texas, standoff in opposing Mullet's release.

Prosecutors say Mullet is a risk to flee and poses a danger to the community. There was no immediate response by prosecutors to the latest defense appeal. A message was left with the U.S. attorney's office seeking comment.

The government said earlier that Mullet could not be trusted to appear in court when ordered and sending officers to his Bergholz farm near Steubenville could lead to "the risk of tragic consequences."

Mullet and 11 followers are charged in five beard- and hair-cutting attacks on other Amish last year.

All 12 have pleaded not guilty. Seven are jailed without bond.

"The government persists in its efforts to raise irrational fears regarding Samuel Mullet Sr. and his attempt to be released on bond," attorney Ed Bryan said.

"Undoubtedly, the government is attempting to harken memories of Waco, Texas, where the Branch Davidians, at David Koresh's command, resisted Mr. Koresh's arrest by an armed conflict."

The federal raid on the compound left four agents and six Davidians killed in the initial gunbattle. The 51-day standoff ended when the complex burned, killing Koresh and nearly 80 of his followers.

Bryan disputed the characterization of Mullet's farm as a fortified compound and said Mullet doesn't have a stockpile of weapons.

"There is no walled 'compound' or single facility where individuals can barricade themselves against law enforcement officers executing arrest warrants," the defense filing said.

A feud over church discipline allegedly led to attacks in which the beards and hair of men and hair of women were cut, which is considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.

The seven-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, assault and evidence tampering in what prosecutors say were hate crimes motivated by religious differences.

Mullet told The Associated Press in October that he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop his sons and others from carrying it out. He said the goal was to send a message to other Amish that they should be ashamed for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.

Published: Tue, Jan 24, 2012