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TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- Sixteen members of a breakaway Amish group accused of settling a score by carrying out hair-cutting attacks against members of their faith are set to go on trial Monday in Cleveland on charges of hate crimes in the hair-cutting attacks. Other charges include conspiracy, evidence tampering and obstruction of justice.
The group moved into the hills of eastern Ohio two decades ago following a dispute over religious differences.
How their community came about is quite common and on the rise among the Amish. Disagreements over church discipline and how to maintain their simple way of life amid the encroaching outside world have created dozens of splinter groups.
But there was something troubling about this one and its leader, according to authorities. They say Samuel Mullet Sr. allowed beatings of those who disobeyed him, had sex with married women to "cleanse them," and then, last fall, instructed his followers to cut the beards and hair of his critics, an act considered deeply offensive in Amish culture. Mullet is among those facing charges.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)