Sheriff: Amish man’s beard cut in new Ohio attack
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — An elderly Amish man has been attacked by his own son, who a sheriff says cut the man’s hair and beard in the latest incident in a breakaway Amish community. The victim told the sheriff he was scared and upset but wouldn’t press charges against his son.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said the elderly man was attacked Wednesday while visiting his son in the breakaway Amish community that’s home to five suspects charged in an earlier beard-cutting attack. Authorities in three other counties are investigating similar alleged attacks.
Such hair-cutting attacks are offensive to the Amish because they believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.
The man, who Abdalla said was in his 70s, went to his son’s home and the two talked. The man said his son then attacked him, with the help of the son’s children, and wrestled the elderly man to the ground, Abdalla said.
The sheriff said the elderly man’s wife tried to help her husband but was held back by her daughter-in-law.
Abdalla said the beard-cutting incidents are related to Sam Mullet, leader of the breakaway Amish group in the Bergholz area. The group has had differences with other bishops over the handling of church matters.
Mullet told The Associated Press last month that the hair-cutting was a response to criticism of his leadership from other Amish bishops.
“They changed the rulings of our church here, and they’re trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we’re not going to do that,” Mullet said.
The sheriff said the Ashland County man had been invited to visit his son. Abdalla warned the son in advance that he didn’t want trouble.
“This is terrible. It is all supposed to be over differences of religion. There is no question this was pre-planned,” Abdalla told the Steubenville Herald-Star.
The sheriff said the victim approached him after the attack and said he was scared and upset but would not press charges.
“I begged him to file a complaint,” Abdalla said, adding the man wanted to go back to his Ashland County community and consult with Amish elders.
A message seeking comment was left today at the sheriff’s office, which was closed for the Veterans Day holiday.