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16 Amish Plead Not Guilty in Beard, Hair Attacks

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Sixteen Amish men and women, and their attorneys, appeared before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in federal court to plead not guilty Thursday afternoon in a series of beard- and hair-cutting attacks against other Amish.

Seven defendants, including alleged ringleader Sam Mullet, Sr., are currently in custody. Nine other defendants, including five men and four women, are currently out on bond.

Thursday's arraignment was so that those four women could be added as defendants to the case. This was their first appearance in court.

The 10-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, assault, and hate crimes.

Prosecutors say charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.

After pleading not guilty to all charges, the Amish defendants refused to comment after they walked out of federal court.

Prosecutors say the men carried out separate assaults between September and November 2011. According to investigators, the men allegedly broke into home and cut the beards and hair from fellow Amish, who were perceived as religious enemies.

Joseph Dubyak said, "I think there's a strong possibility you're going to see most or all the defendants on trial in August."

Dubyak represents one of the four women who were recently added to the indictment.

"I talked with my client, and she's got other members of the family planting crops or plowing the field," Dubyak said.

Following Thursday's arraignment, an attorney for Sam Mullet, Sr. told FOX8 News that he was preparing to file a bond motion that would allow his client to return home with his family.

"His family needs him home right now. This is a very busy time for Amish people. There's a lot of fields to be plowed. It's difficult because a lot of their men, including Mr. Mullet, are locked up during this period of time," Edward Bryan said.

A trial date is set for Monday, August 27 at 9:00 a.m.