Judge won't consider release for Ohio Amish leader

January 23, 2012 - 1:05 PM
Amish Attacks

FILE-This is an Oct. 10, 2011 file photo of Amish leader Sam Mullet standing in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. The defense for Mullet, the breakaway Amish leader charged in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio, says the government is trying to demonize him to keep him locked up pending trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

CLEVELAND (AP) — A breakaway Amish leader charged in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish complained Monday that the government is trying to demonize him to keep him locked up, but a judge again rejected pretrial release.

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

U.S. District Dan Aaron Polster responded with a brief order rejecting the defense request to reconsider release on bond.

Prosecutors say Mullet is a risk to flee and poses a danger to the community. The government declined comment on the renewed defense appeal.

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 in a court filing.

"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.