Friday, September 21, 2012

16 Amish Convicted In Beard Cutting Assaults

According to McClatchy Newspapers, a federal court jury in Cleveland, Ohio yesterday convicted 16 members of the Bergholz Amish sect of conspiring to violate the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in a series of assaults last year on members of a rival Amish group. The Act prohibits any person from willfully causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person. Defendants used scissors and battery powered clippers to cut the beards of male victims and the hair of females.  Defense lawyers, who did not call any witnesses at trial, argued that the attacks were only motivated by love, to save other Amish from their incorrect ways. A Department of Justice Release details that in addition to the conspiracy charges, various of the defendant were convicted of hate crimes involving kidnapping, concealing evidence and making false statements to the FBI. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for January. (See prior related posting.)