According to BBC News
, Sam Mullet has also been convicted of orchestrating five attacks last year in eastern Ohio.
Men's beards and women's hair were cut in the attacks, The AP
The attacks terrorized the normally peaceful settlements in eastern Ohio. While Mullet was found guilty of orchestrating the attacks, 15 of his followers were found guilty of actually carrying them out.
According to prosecutors, the forcible hair and beard cutting were motivated by disputes between Mr. Mullet and other religious leaders who accepted excommunicated members from Mullet's community into theirs, Reuters
Prosecutors and witnesses said sons pulled their father out of bed and chop off his beard, while women surrounded their mother-in-law, and cut off two feet of her hair, The AP
reports. In some places the the mother-in-law's hair was cut down to the scalp.
One woman testified that her own sons and daughter cut her hair and her husband's beard in a "surprise" attack.
Before his arrest
last November, Mullet said he believes in the right to punish people who break church laws.
He said that people punish those who don't obey him, and wondered why he wasn't allowed to punish the church people for not obeying him.
Defense lawyers say the attacks did happen, but argued it is unjust to call them hate crimes, Reuters
reports. They were a result of family and financial disputes, not religious differences.
Mullet's attorney Ed Bryan also argued there was no proof that his client was behind the attacks, The AP
reports. The defendants accused of actually carrying out the attacks could have been inspired by one another and not their leader.