The trial of sixteen people charged with hate crimes in the hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish begins this week.
Jury selection is set to begin this morning (monday) in a Cleveland courtroom. The leader of a breakaway Amish group and four of his children, who all live in eastern Ohio, are among those charged.
Prosecutors say some of the suspects cut the beards and hair of Amish men and women last fall by force. Authorities say the attacks were motivated by religious differences.
If convicted, some of the defendants face 20 years or more in prison. Earlier they turned down plea bargain offers that would have carried much shorter sentences.
The group's leader contends that they should be allowed to handle what they see as internal church disciplinary matters.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)