BERGHOLZ - A woman who was a confidant of the Amish settlement that was the focus of a federal trial said if people knew the circumstances behind the acts they would agree it was a hate crime.
"There was a need for the government to step in before someone got killed," said Virginia Glenn, who lives not far from the settlement.
Sixteen Amish men and women were convicted in federal court Thursday of hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio.
AFTER THE VERDICT — Amish women exit the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Cleveland Thursday. The jury found all 16 Amish people guilty in the hair- and beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish.
-- Associated Press
Sam Mullet Sr. was the leader of the group. Federal prosecutors told jurors the hair and beard cuttings were done as an act of disgrace to the victims.
Glenn said the Amish normally don't like to involve outsiders in their personal business but they were so afraid of Mullet and his followers.
"The Amish are defenseless. They wouldn't have asked for help unless they were desperate," she said.
Glenn believes Mullet has psychological problems and brainwashed his followers from a young age.
"I believe he is insane."
Glenn believes Mullet will continue to rule the settlement from prison.
"My hope is that they lock him up and throw away the key. The longer he is locked away the better the chance the settlement will disband," she said.
Glenn said other Amish communities in the surrounding states have offered to each take in one family. A couple Amish families have talked of moving away.
Glenn was interviewed by the FBI during the investigation into the Amish case. She said she refused to testify because she was scared of repercussions from the Amish.
Amish under the control of Mullet have threatened to burn her barn down and have opened gates to let out her horses.
Glenn said several members of the Amish community came to her house in the past four years talking to her about what was going on with Mullet.
There were allegations of sex with wives. She said Mullet had 18 children with different women.
She said she really shied away from Mullet after the cancer death of Mullet's daughter, Emma. "She was a special person."
Glenn said Emma need to have surgery, which included a hysterectomy, but Mullet refused to give permission. Before her death, Emma asked Glenn to take her picture so Emma's young children would have it when they got older. Mullet refused to allow the photograph. The Amish shy from photographs.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department raided the settlement in 2007 because of allegations of sex crimes and threats against the sheriff and deputies. Glenn said not long after Mullet had a posting on YouTube ranting about the sheriff's actions.
Glenn said Mullet came from an extremely harsh sect of Amish that focuses on the sin the heart instead of the good.
Mullet came to Glenn's house several times ranting.
"He said he was Moses and (his people) were the Israelites and he would beat them into submission. I saw the erratic behavior starting," she said.
Glenn said Mullet only preached from the Old Testament of the Bible, while most other Amish teach from the New Testament and the preachings of Christ.
She said Amish children would come to her home and ask her to help them read the Old Testament so they could better understand. She said Mullet was providing an interpretation that fit his goals.
Glenn hopes there is some psychological help given to the followers still at the Bergholz-area settlement.
"They have been so brainwashed that they believe that man is their savior. Unless they cut complete contact with him, he will rule them by mail and phone from jail. They need to see what he has done to the community."
Mullet received a gas drilling lease worth a couple million dollars that Glenn said he may use to bribe and entice the families to stay.
She believes the Amish community is in disarray and the kids aren't even going to school.
Glenn said bishops from other Amish communities are willing to come here and help but they are still afraid of the community and what they have done.
She said many people have questioned why the government got involved and prosecuted the Amish men and women on hate crimes.
"If they knew the story and the circumstances, it is a hate crime. This was an act of terrorism to go into homes and do what they did."
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said he hopes the remaining Amish now can live in freedom without the rule of Mullet.
Abdalla said Amish throughout the region have been scared of Mullet.
"(What he did) is not the Amish way. It is his own personal religion. I hope he didn't taint the Amish people for what he did."
(Law can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)