12 indicted in beard-cutting attacks on Ohio Amish

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN | December 20, 2011 | 4:30 PM EST

CLEVELAND (AP) — Twelve members of a breakaway Amish group have been charged with federal hate crimes in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in eastern Ohio farm country.

The seven-count indictment against Samuel Mullet and 11 relatives or members of his group was announced Tuesday in Cleveland by federal prosecutors. The charges include conspiracy, assault and evidence tampering in what prosecutors say were hate crimes motivated by religious differences.

The five attacks between September and November involved cutting women's hair and men's beards and hair. That's considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.

Mullet, three of his sons and three others were arrested Nov. 23. Mullet's daughter, two nephews and the spouses of a nephew and a niece also are charged in the indictment.

Mullet says he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop his sons and others from carrying it out.