CLEVELAND (AP) — Federal prosecutors have begun their case against a group accused in hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio.
Opening statements in the trial of 16 Amish men and women were this morning in Cleveland.
Prosecutors say a religious feud between the Amish in eastern Ohio led to the hair- and beard-cutting attacks last fall.
All 16 are charged with federal hate crimes and some face prison terms of 20 years or longer if they’re convicted. Prosecutors say some of those charged tried to hide evidence.
The defendants say what happened was what they call internal church disciplinary matters and that the government shouldn’t get involved.
The group’s leader says he didn’t order the hair-cuttings, but that he also didn’t stop anyone from carrying them out.