Former Amish sect member compares Bergholz Clan to Peoples Temple cult

Five men suspected of forcefully cutting the beards of fellow Amish were arraigned Wednesday and each released on $50,000 bond posted by the leader of their breakaway group, the Associated Press reports.

According to the Pitssburgh Post-Gazette

Prosecuting attorney Steve Knowling said Samuel Mullet, believed to be the leader of the breakaway sect that the men belonged to, bailed all of the men out this. All were being held on $50,000 bond, cash or surety. […]

The five are charged in an Oct. 4 attack in Holmes County, when police said a gang of men broke into a 74-year-old man’s house as he lay in bed with his wife. They held him to a chair, shearing his beard with scissors and clippers.

Poice are investigating similar incidents in the area. […] Authorities say the group are members of a religious sect that has been excommunicated by the Amish and is headed by Samuel Mullet.


Meanwhile NBC affiliate WKYC in Cleveland, Ohio, says

A former member of the Bergholz Clan, thought to be behind the recent beard-cutting attacks, is speaking out against the group.

Their leader, Sam Mullet, moved with some 120 fellow Amish to Bergholz some 15 years ago. He says to live by his rules. […]

Former Bergholz member and son-in-law to Sam, we’ll call Ayden, compares the sect to the former Peoples Temple, whose leader was Jim Jones. In 1978, the cult ended in a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.


“I’m not surprised if I have to call the sheriff some day and say there are a lot of dead people lying around here. That would not be a surprise to me nor would it be a surprise to the sheriff of that county,” Ayden said. […]

Ayden lived in Bergholz between 2000 and 2006. He fled to eastern Pennsylvania where he lives today.

“I have enough inside information that I have no question if something is not done, there will be people that get hurt,” Ayden said.

The former member says there were forced beatings, pitting one member against another.

Ayden says there is a heavy price to pay for disagreeing with Sam Mullet.


“He would take the wife from the man. The wife would have to go and live with Sam. The husband of that wife would have to go to the chicken coop or out in the barn in the middle of the winter, sometimes day and night,” Ayden said.

Arlene Miller and her family say they helped get Mullet’s son, Bill, and family out of Bergholz about the same time Ayden left. She heard many stories.

“The brainwashing, the beatings, the locking up, and the women he is using,” Miller said.

Miller’s husband, Myron, was attacked last Tuesday and had six inches of his beard cut off by the assailants.

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

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This post was last updated: Oct. 13, 2011