By Jason Hanna and Mallory Simon, CNN
(CNN) - Sixteen members of a breakaway Amish community in rural eastern Ohio, including its leader, were convicted of federal hate crimes Thursday for the forcible cutting of Amish men's beards and Amish women's hair.
Sam Mullet Sr. and the 15 followers were found guilty of conspiracy to violate federal hate-crime law in connection with what authorities said were the religiously motivated attacks on several fellow Amish people last year.
The verdicts were read in U.S. District Court in Cleveland following several days of jury deliberation and a trial that began in late August, a U.S. attorney's office said.
Prosecutors said the 15 followers, at Mullet's instruction, shaved the beards and cut the hair of Amish people who had left his group over various religious disagreements. Five attacks happened in four eastern Ohio counties between September and November 2011, authorities said.
To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood, and the way Amish women wear their hair also is a symbol of faith, authorities said.
The assaults violated the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which "prohibits any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person," according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
I cant stand the the thought that a supposed religious group could do such a hateful thing.
Symbols do not mean much.
I recall in the 1960s if a boy's hair grew too long the principal of our elementary school would give a boy a bowl cut in his office. That looked pretty ratty back then. No cult No one took the principal to court.
There is too much importance put on how people look still.
The nation is breaking apart because we do not respect the diversity we have, which created the great things about we have in the USA.
No one in the USA should have to worry for one moment that because of any single difference in who they are that another person or group will take some violent, insane action against them.
Live and let live.
Odd. Mitt Romney held down a guy and cut his hair off and got away with it. I guess the law isn't for rich people.
Fear the Mullet!
People need to have more respect for these people (in general). How do you think the Amish will react to an internet article like this? And what if it becomes a big enough story that they'll see on CNN or Fox News? (oh, I'm being told now that it probably won't have much of an affect after all.
Convicted of first degree barbery
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