CLEVELAND - Jury selection is expected to get begin this week in the case of 16 members of an Amish sect accused of federal hate crime violations for a series of beard and hair cutting attacks last year, including one in Trumbull County.
Samuel Mullet of Bergholz, who is said to be head of the group and who prosecutors say ordered the attacks, and his followers have been held without bond since they were rounded up by law enforcement officers in November.
In July, the 16 rejected deals for plea bargains which would have given them either sentences of two or three years or probation in some cases. The federal hate crime statutes carry long prison sentences.
Prosecutors say a feud over church discipline led to attacks in which the beards and hair of men and hair of women were cut, an act considered deeply offensive in Amish culture. The Amish believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.
Several members of the group living in Bergholz in eastern Ohio carried out the attacks last year in September, October and November by forcibly cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women and then taking photos to shame them, authorities have said.