The Ohio sheriff in a county with one of the nation's biggest Amish settlements described a crying scene where a community leader had his beard and hair cut by fellow Amish in a nighttime home invasion.
Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly testified Wednesday in Cleveland federal court in the trial of 16 defendants in attacks on fellow Amish.
Zimmerly said he went last October to the home of an Amish bishop whose beard was cut short and his hair chopped off to the scalp, leaving it bloody. He says people were upset and screaming, with hair scattered on the floor.
The sheriff says a neighbor identified the attackers as members of a breakaway Amish community.
The leader of the group says the beard-cutting was a matter of internal church discipline.
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A local sheriff is expected to testify in a trial that has made national headlines.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla is scheduled to take the stand this week when the hate-crime trial of 16 breakaway Amish resumes.
The accused are said to have cut the beards and hair of fellow Amish in Bergholz last fall.
The defense claims the attacks were more like a family feud rather than hate crimes. They say family squabbles over money, children and even the way some women in the conservative settlements dressed also played a part.
Prosecutors claim the attacks were motivated by religious differences. They say the defendants targeted the hair and beards of Amish people because of their spiritual significance in the faith.