CLEVELAND – Sixteen people charged with hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish are going on trial this week in Ohio.
Jury selection began Monday morning in Cleveland. Among those who are charged are the leader of a breakaway Amish group and four of his children who all live in eastern Ohio.
Prosecutors say some of the suspects forcibly cut the beards and hair of Amish men and the hair of women last fall. Authorities say the attacks were motivated by religious differences.
Some of the defendants face prison terms of 20 years or more if convicted. They have turned down plea bargains that would have carried much shorter sentences.
The group's leader contends that they should be allowed to handle what they see as internal church disciplinary matters.