Three men in Amish beard-cutting case waive hearing

Fri Dec 2, 2011 3:39pm EST

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(Reuters) - Three men from an Amish splinter group facing hate crime charges over beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio waived their right to a hearing on Friday and will remain behind bars.

On Wednesday, a federal magistrate judge in Youngstown, Ohio denied bond to four other members of the sect, including leader Samuel Mullet, Sr., two of his sons, and his son-in-law.

Judge George Limbert made the Wednesday ruling after hours of testimony by an FBI agent and local sheriff about the sect's leader, Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., his two sons Johnny and Daniel Mullet and son-in-law Emanuel Schrock.

The three men who waived their hearing Friday were Lester Mullet, another son of Samuel Mullet, and Levi and Eli Miller.

All seven men were charged under the Hate Crime Act in connection with attacks that took place throughout the fall in three counties south of Cleveland, one of the country's largest concentrations of Amish.

The Department of Justice said the men were accused of restraining multiple Amish men and cutting off their beards and hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers, and injuring those who tried to stop them.

The actions of the group were considered especially egregious because once married, Amish men typically do not trim their beards and Amish women do not cut their hair for religious and cultural reasons.

Bishop Mullet was accused of orchestrating the beard-cuttings as revenge for being shunned by the Amish community. He was also accused of forcing extreme punishments on sect members who defied him, including making them sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop, the FBI said.

Authorities said conversations recorded at the Holmes County jail before federal charges were brought alerted authorities that he was planning more attacks.

The most serious charges in the case could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Kim Palmer; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Greg McCune)

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