The Amish bishop convicted of hate crimes against other Amish has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more on a dramatic day in court.
The gallery of the Cleveland federal courtroom was packed with women in white scarves and dark jackets, and bearded men sporting shirtsleeves and suspenders. They'd come to witness the fate of the 16 members of a conservative church group, convicted of forcibly shearing the beards and long hair of other Amish, in an attempt to publicly shame these perceived enemies.
Bishop Sam Mullet, his long beard flowing across the front of his orange prison jumpsuit, spoke only briefly when it came time to plead for leniency from Judge Daniel Polster. He asked the judge to let the other defendants go and give all the jail time to him.
But, Judge Polster elected to sentence Mullet to 15 years behind bars for being the ringleader of the five attacks, and gave the others lesser prison terms ranging from one to seven years. The judge did single out Mullet for showing no remorse for the way his victims had been terrorized. One of those attacks took place in Holmes County, where prosecutor Steve Knowling says he had a hard time getting victims to testify.
KNOWLING: They don't want to be involved in the court process. That was the big hurdle, and that was what they were able to get over by understanding that they were going to do it to help other people going? through what they went through.
Defense attorney Edward Bryan said that 15 years was the equivalent of a life sentence for the 67-year-old Mullet. The defendants have two weeks to decide if they want to appeal the case.