By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND, Ohio (Reuters) - Four men from an Amish splinter group in Ohio facing hate crimes charges over beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish were ordered to remain in custody of U.S. Marshalls, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
The judge made the ruling after hours of testimony by an FBI agent and local sheriff in a detention hearing for the sect's leader, Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., his two sons Johnny and Daniel Mullet and son-in-law Emanuel Schrock.
Three other men also arrested in the case were due in court on Friday.
The men were charged under the Hate Crime Act with conspiracy, and aiding and abetting linked to attacks that took place throughout the fall in three counties south of Cleveland, one of the country's largest concentrations of Amish.
The Department of Justice said the men were accused of restrained multiple Amish men and cutting off their beards and hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers, and injuring those who tried to stop them.
The actions of the group were considered especially egregious because once married, Amish men typically do not trim their beards and Amish women do not cut their hair for religious and cultural reasons.
Bishop Mullet was accused of orchestrating the beard-cuttings as revenge for being shunned by the Amish community. He was also accused of forcing extreme punishments on sect members who defied him, including making them sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop, the FBI said.
Authorities said conversations recorded at the Holmes County jail before federal charges were brought alerted authorities that he was planning more attacks.
The most serious charges in the case could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)