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Amish sect faces more charges in Ohio

CLEVELAND, April 20 (UPI) -- New federal charges were brought against members of an Amish splinter sect accused of forcibly cutting the beards of several Amish men in Ohio, officials said.

Samuel Mullet Sr., the leader of the sect, and 15 of his followers were in federal court Thursday for new charges in what prosecutors called a hate-crime case, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

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Some of the defendants were accused of concealing and destroying evidence, such as a disposable camera, scissors and a bag of hair from victims of the attacks. Mullet was also accused of lying to federal agents.

New indictments added four defendants, all women, in the case.

All of the suspects are believed to have been involved in five separate attacks from September to November, 2011, prosecutors said.

Mullet and his followers had disputes with the victims, who lost beards and head hair in the attacks.

Amish men wear their beards and hair in a way that symbolizes their faith, said a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Mullet, his three sons and three other followers remained in federal custody. The other defendants were out on bail.

All 16 pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 27.

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