12 Ohio Amish plead not guilty in beard-cutting attacks

In this Oct. 19, 2011 file photo, from left: Johnny Mullet, Lester Mullet, Daniel Mullet, Levi Miller and Eli Miller wait to make their pleas in Holmes County Municipal Court in Millersburg, Ohio. The five men, along with reputed Amish breakaway sect leader Sam Mullet and Emanuel Shrock, were arrested by the FBI and local sheriff's deputies early Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 on federal hate crime charges.
Wooster Daily Record,AP Photo/Mike Schenck
12 Ohio Amish plead not guilty in beard-cutting attacks
Sam Mullet stands in front of his Bergholz, Ohio home on Monday. Oct. 10, 2011.
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

(CBS/AP) CLEVELAND - Twelve members of a breakaway Amish group charged with hate crimes pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in a feud over church discipline.

Pictures: Amish men charged in beard-cutting attacks

The seven original defendants arrested in November and five more added last month entered the pleas in a federal courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster refused a defense appeal to release on bond the suspected ringleader, Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, and his son, Johnny Mullet, 37, both of Bergholz, near Steubenville in eastern Ohio.

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 includes charges of conspiracy, assault and evidence tampering in what prosecutors say were hate crimes motivated by religious differences.

The indictment also charges three other children of Mullet, 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 original defendants were Mullet's sons Daniel and Lester Mullet; son-in-law Emanuel Schrock; nephew Eli Miller; and community member Levi Miller.

Newly charged 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.

Complete coverage of Amish beard-cutting attacks on crimesider