Five More Amish Sent to Prison for Beard-Cutting, Leaving Dozens of Children Behind

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As several members of an Ohio Amish sect prepare to go to jail for beard-cutting, their children are preparing to be under the care of other adults.

Nine people in the sect, which is led by Samuel Mullet Sr., are in prison already for being convicted of the hate crime. 

In the culture, beards are a sign of masculinity and faith, so cutting them is extremely offensive.

On Friday, five others will join the nine in jail serving sentences between one and seven years. Included in the five are four women and one man. They are leaving nearly three dozen children without one or both of their parents.

Sect leader Mullet Sr. planned the assaults, which involved holding down rival men and cutting their beards by force.

Though most disputes are settled within their own communities, this incident involved police because of the "seriousness of the assaults."

Many Amish believe they are being prosecuted unfairly, and that law enforcement should leave it up to them to settle in their own way.

Many of them do not deny cutting the beards and are regretful of it. 

Others believe that, since they are bound by different rules dictated by their religion, the government had no right to get involved.

"We're not exactly saying it was wrong, and we don't say it's right either…it's something that will never happen again, I can tell you that," Wilma Mullet said. 

All defendants, 16 in total, are arguing that their convictions are cruel and unusual punishment. Many of them are being sent to separate facilities in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Connecticut, meaning their family members will be unable to visit them.

The members who are going to prison on Friday are scared but believe they will get released early for good behavior.

The three dozen children left behind will be under the care of older siblings or adults in the sect. Martha Mullet will be given custody of Lovina Miller's eight children until she returns from jail, and Anna Miller and Freeman Burkholder will be merging their households together.

Other community members plan to work together to keep the group thriving by handling extra home repairs and taking on more chores.

Sources: Daily Mail, NBC News