Amish beard-cutting incident pits father v. son

Sam Mullet stands in front of his Bergholz, Ohio home on Oct. 10, 2011. The leader of a breakaway Amish group, Mullet said an attack on fellow Amish in which a man's beard was cut off was a religious issue stemming from long-standing resentment of his group's treatment. Mullet said the goal was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
Sam Mullet, leader of a breakaway Amish group authorities says is behind a series of beard-cutting incidents
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

(CBS/AP) STEUBENVILLE, Ohio. - The beard-cutting attacks in this breakaway Amish community continued Wednesday when an elderly Amish man was assaulted by his own son. 

"This guy was just totally destroyed after this happened. They just humiliated him. I talked to him. I mean, the guy's a broken man," said Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla.

Hair-cutting attacks are a sensitive issue in the Amish community. Many Amish believe the Bible instructs men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.

The latest incident occurred after the victim traveled from Ashland County in response to an invitation from his son to reunite.

The victim, who Abdalla said was in his 70s, went to his son's home and the two talked. The man said his son attacked him, and with the help of his grandchildren allegedly managed to wrestle the elderly man to the ground.

Abdalla said the man's wife tried to help her husband but her daughter-in law held her back.

The beard-cutting attacks are connected to Sam Mullet, the leader of the breakaway Amish group. The group has differences with other bishops over the handling of church matters. Mullet told The Associated Press last month that the hair-cutting was in response to other bishops criticizing his leadership.

"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 victim told authorities he was scared and upset, but wouldn't press charges.

"I'm frustrated. I'm upset with it. And here again, the man doesn't want to file charges because of his belief," Abdalla said Friday.

Authorities in three other counties are investigating similar alleged attacks.

Complete coverage of the Amish-beard-cutting cases on Crimesider