U.S. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged an additional four women with being involved in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio, and added new allegations that suspects tried to hide or destroy evidence including a bag of hair from the victims.
Twelve members of the so-called Bergholz Clan, a breakaway group led by Samuel Mullet, were previously charged with hate crimes over the attacks.
The updated indictment filed in federal court in Cleveland also charges alleged ringleader Sam Mullet Jr. with lying to federal agents during their investigation by denying knowledge of an October assault.
The new allegations bring to 16 the number of people charged in the attacks on other Amish last year. The dozen previous defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The new defendants, Lovina Miller, Kathryn Miller, Emma Miller and Elizabeth Miller, are members of the Amish community in Bergholz in eastern Ohio near Steubenville and are married to some of Mullet’s nephews, according to the indictment filed late Wednesday.
Assaults involved scissors, battery-powered clippers and 20-centimetre horse mane shears to forcibly cut or shave the beard hair of the male victims and the head hair of the female victims.
Mullet and three others, including one not indicted for bodily harm, were charged with concealing or trying to conceal evidence, including a disposable camera, photographs, shears, bag of hair from a victim and an over-the-counter drug allegedly placed in a beverage consumed by one victim.
In each assault, defendants forcibly removed beard and head hair from practitioners of the Amish faith with whom they had ongoing religious disputes. As set forth in the superseding indictment, the manner in which Amish men wear their beards and Amish women wear their hair are symbols of their faith.
A previous report details the reasons behind the beard- and hair cutting attacks, and also addresses alleged abuses within Samuel Mullet’s so-called Bergholz Clan.
Read the updated indictment