The Ohio Amish beard-cutting defendants appeared before a judge in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 13, 2012, in preparation for trial. The charges against them stem from several assaults of Amish couples in their homes in which the men had their beards cut and the women were shorn, forcibly. The defendants insist that their actions involved an internal church matter and should not involve the state. The case is going to trial after defendants rejected a July plea bargain that would have guaranteed them sentences of two-three years, with parole for some, rather than the 20 or more years they each now face.
Seven of the 16 people charged have asked the judge to a forbid any references to their particular group of Amish as a cult or renegade group. At the time of the arrests the suspects were believed connected to break-away Amish preacher Sam Mullet. Part of the motive for the attacks seems to be punishment of detractors of Mullet’s followers, who were insulted by the others referring to them as a cult. They have also asked the judge to ban any language referring to the defendants as belonging to a clan, schism, breakaway or splinter Amish group, and to Mullet’s finanaces.
A number of the defendants requested the option to “affirm” the truthfulness of their statements, rather than swear to it. The Amish traditionally shun any type of swearing. Their request was granted.