21/09/2012 08:17 BST | Updated 21/09/2012 09:05 BST

Samuel Mullet Sr, Amish Breakaway Group Leader, Found Guilty Of Haircut Hate Crimes (PICTURES)

The leader of an Amish breakaway group who allegedly forced his victims to sleep in a chicken coop has been convicted of planning hate crimes by cutting the beards of community members in night time attacks.

Fifteen members of Samuel Mullet Sr's Amish breakaway group in Ohio have been found guilty of hate crimes.

Mullet has been found guilty of planning the attacks, where one Amish bishop was dragged out of his farm house and his chest-length beard was shorn.

Court documents show victims' claims that Mullet was trying to seek revenge on families who left his breakaway group and were accepted into Amish communities. Amish men do not cut their beards for religious reasons.

Sam Mullet Sr stands in the front yard of his home in Bergholz, Ohio

They state that Mullet "has forced extreme punishments on and physical injury to those in the community who defy him, including forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop on his property." They also claim he provided "sexual counselling" and allowed members of his clan "to beat other members" who showed dissent.

In 2011 Mullet told news agency AP: "You have your laws on the road and the town - if somebody doesn't obey you you punish the people? But I'm not allowed to punish the church people? I just let them run over me? If every family would do just as they pleased what kind of church would we have."

"From day one, this case has been about the rule of law and defending the right of people to worship in peace," the US Attorney Steven Dettelbach said after the verdicts. "This was a crime of violence."