Sixteen Amish men and women were found guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland of crimes including conspiracy, hate crimes, assault and hiding evidence, in a series of hair- and beard-cutting incidents against members of other Amish groups.
The jury deliberated five days after hearing testimony focusing on eight victims whose hair and/or beards were forcibly cut last year. Prosecutors invoked the hate-crime law because the Amish consider the length of their hair a sign of religious devotion, and the violent actions were taken to enforce a particular view of the religion.
Potential sentences could range as long as life in prison. "These were no mere haircuts, these were violent attacks," said Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. "Our community and our nation must have zero tolerance for this type of intolerance."