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Amish Beard Cutting Ringleader Gets 15 Years
An Amish elder has been jailed for 15 years over a series of beard and and hair cutting attacks on fellow Amish people in eastern Ohio.
Samuel Mullet Sr, said to be the ringleader in the attacks, was sentenced in a district court in Cleveland.
Fifteen members of his extended family were also handed sentences ranging from one to seven years.
The 10 men and six women were convicted last year in five attacks in Amish communities in Ohio in 2011.
Before his sentencing Mullet said he had been blamed for running a cult, and was prepared to take his punishment.
The government said the attacks were in retaliation for community members who defied or denounced Mullet's authoritarian style.
The defendants were charged with a hate crime because prosecutors argued religious differences brought about the attacks.
But the 67-year-old leader called it an internal faith matter that did not amount to a hate crime.
His lawyer had asked for a sentence of two years or less, while the government had sought a life sentence for him.
The case shed unwelcome light on discipline and dissent in the Amish community, which tries to stay apart from modern culture.
Amish believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards once they marry.
Cutting them short is deemed to be offensive.