CLEVELAND - Twelve members of a breakaway Amish group faced arraignment Wednesday in federal court in beard- and hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish, and the government asked that the suspected ringleader be locked up pending trial.
Seven men have been held without bond since their arrest Thanksgiving Eve. Five additional suspects were charged in an indictment returned in December.
The suspected ringleader, Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, of Bergholz, near Steubenville in eastern Ohio, said he's not a threat and should be free pending trial.
The government said in a separate court filing before the arraignment that Mullet presents a risk of violence and fleeing prosecution and should be jailed.
A feud over church discipline allegedly led to five attacks in which the beards and hair of men and hair of women were cut, which is considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.
The seven-count indictment returned in December includes charges of conspiracy, assault and evidence tampering in what prosecutors say were hate crimes motivated by religious differences.
The indictment also charges four of Mullet's children, a son-in-law, three nephews, the spouses of a niece and nephew and a member of the Mullet community in Bergholz.
Mullet told The Associated Press in October that he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop his sons and others from carrying it out. He said the goal was to send a message to other Amish that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.
The others charged before the indictment was returned were Mullet's sons Johnny, Daniel and Lester Mullet; son-in-law Emanuel Schrock; nephew Eli Miller; and community member Levi Miller.
Newly charged in the indictment were Mullet's daughter Linda Schrock; nephews Lester and Raymond Miller; Anna Miller, the wife of another nephew; and a niece's husband, Freeman Burkholder.
Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.
Amish often mete out their own internal punishment and rarely report crimes to law enforcement. Some beard-cutting victims declined to press charges earlier.
Ohio has an estimated Amish population of just under 61,000 -- second only to Pennsylvania -- with most living in rural counties south and east of Cleveland.