Amish man claims wife left him and their daughters after she was brainwashed by Amish beard-cutting 'cult'

Daily Mail, UK/November 2, 2011

Years before a breakaway sect grabbed headlines for a string of beard-cutting attacks in Ohio, an Amish community was living in fear of what they now call a 'cult.'

Aden Troyer says he and his family were brought into the sect by his wife's father Sam Mullet, who's believed by many to be the mastermind of the beard attacks.

Now, years later, Mr Troyer still does not know what to tell his young daughters when they ask about their mother.

Mr Troyer told CNN: 'I've kind of held back a little bit because they are so young, and I do not want to depress them.'

He is among those who claim Mullet's militant behaviour over his group is in stark contrast to the Amish faith.

Mr Troyer told the network: 'The way he's been treating and talking to people, he is not an Amish guy. He is not your typical peaceful, loving Amish person.'

He knew he had to get out, so one day, he scooped up his daughters and moved to Pennsylvania, but his wife wouldn't follow.

They later divorced, and Mr Troyer got full custody of the girls.

The bizarre attacks last month have thrust this ferociously private community into the spotlight, with horror stories emerging of rape, beatings, brainwashing and kidnapping.

Arlene Miller said she and her husband helped one of Mullet's sons - Bill - escape from the clan and believes that may have been one of the reasons why he was attacked.

Until recently, the sheriff could do little, because the Amish victims chose to shrug off the assaults rather than bring in law enforcement. But with a spate of attacks since September, people began to cooperate.

Two of the Mullet's 18 children have been charged in the beard cuttings.

Johnny S. Mullet and Lester S. Mullet will go to trial along with Levi and Eli Miller and and Daniel S. Mullet. He is Mullet's nephew.

The men hired a lawyer and the case has been sent to felony court after they waived a preliminary hearing on the evidence last month.

They were freed on $50,000 bond, which Sam Mullet is said to have paid.

Sam Mullet denies his clan is a cult but sees value in punishing those who don't follow church teaching.

'You don't obey the law, you're punished, and it's the same way with the church,' Mullet said.

The men are said to have acted at the direction of the 66-year-old over an unspecified dispute about church discipline and practices.

In the Amish community, beards on men and long hair on women have spiritual value, and forcibly cutting either is a symbolic assault meant to denigrate.

The men are accused of bursting into an Ohio home on October 4 and holding an Amish man down as they attempted to cut his beard and hair off with scissors and a battery-powered shaver.

There were more attacks, with victims including children as young as 13, who were targeted by as many as 27 members of the gang.

The attacks occurred over the past month in the heart of Ohio's Amish population, one of the largest in the United States.

Authorities are investigating similar attacks in Jefferson, Carroll and Trumbull counties, all of which Sheriff Fred Abdulla of Jefferson County believes were orchestrated by Sam Mullet.

Sheriff Abdulla said he once had a good relationship with Mullet, but the pair have had many run-ins over the years, including when he prosecuted one of his sons, Crist, for raping a 12-year-old girl.

The sheriff also claims that Mullet threatened to kill him and some of his own children and was once involved in a custody battle.

Sheriff Abdallah told CNN: 'If I were to get a call right now telling me, "Sheriff, they're all dead in the community out there," it wouldn't surprise me.'

But Sam Mullett has denied he ordered the attack, but admitted the goal was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County, Ohio, that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.

Sam Mullet said: 'We'd like to get up in the morning, be left alone, live like normal people. They won't leave us be.

'But I didn't order anything like that. I didn't tell them not to, I'm still not going to tell them not to.'

Amish men typically grow beards as adults and stop trimming them when they marry, and the beards are held in high esteem.

He said the men hired a driver to carry them to Holmes County and to Carroll County, where a similar attack was carried out.

He said the driver didn't know what the men were doing.

Arlene Miller told how her husband Myron was dragged out of their bed by his beard, taken outside and assaulted.

She said: 'The guys came up and surrounded him and cut off a chunk of his beard. They were unable to get any more because he struggled so hard against them.

'The [attackers] say this is to uncover sins, and it's to straighten us out.'

A 57-year-old woman said her sons and a son-in-law who had joined the rival group and are involved in a cult attacked her and her husband.

After chopping off her husband's whiskers, they shaved her head.

'They did this to me,' she said, taking off a bandana to show her baldness.

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