16 Ohio Amish defendants reject plea deals

CLEVELAND - Sixteen people charged in beard- and hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio have rejected plea bargain offers and will go to trial next month.

The defendants, who include members of an eastern Ohio breakaway Amish group, argue the alleged attacks last fall weren't hate crimes but internal church disciplinary matters not involving anti-Amish bias.

The defendants told a federal judge in Cleveland Monday that they understood the risks of trial, including lengthy prison terms if convicted.

The plea bargains detailed in court would have given many of the defendants sentences of two to three years in prison instead of the possibility of 20 years or more.

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