12 indicted in forcible beard- and hair-cuttings of Ohio Amish
Twelve members of a breakaway Amish sect were indicted on federal charges for allegedly shaving the beards and cutting the hair of Amish community members, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
A federal grand jury in Cleveland returned a seven-count indictment charging 10 men and two women with conspiracy to violate the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. They were also charged with obstruction of justice in the five incidents, which prosecutors said occurred between September and November.
Various groups of defendants were charged with each separate assault, and four men were charged with concealing or attempting to conceal various items of evidence, the Justice Department said in a news release.
Among the defendants is sect leader Samuel Mullet Sr., bishop of the Amish community in Bergholz, Ohio. The others indicted are all members of the sect, the Justice Department said.
The manner in which Amish men wear their beards and Amish women wear their hair are symbols of their faith, authorities said.