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Authorities investigating Amish-on-Amish attacks in Ohio

Authorities have been investigating a string of Amish-on-Amish attacks in Ohio, the Associated Press reports.
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An Amish farmer plows his field behind six draft horses June 2, 2011 in New Wilmington, southwestern Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Authorities have been investigating a string of Amish-on-Amish attacks in Ohio, the Associated Press reports.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Thursday that a group of religious castoffs have been attacking other Amish, cutting off their hair and beards. From the AP:

No charges have been filed, but several victims suffered minor injuries, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said. The investigation has been hampered by the traditional reluctance of Amish to turn to law enforcement.

Over the last three weeks, at least a half dozen people have been attacked. Abdalla told the AP the motive may be related to a group of 18 Amish families, 17 of which are themselves related, who have drawn previous attention from law enforcement.

According to The Tribune Chronicle, the attacks are suspected to have been perpetrated by the "Bergholz Clan,'' led by Bishop Sam Mullet. Investigators told the Tribune that they plan to file assault and burglary charges.

Beverly Cushman, Westminster College associate professor of religion and Christian education, told the Tribune that the cutting of hair and beards is meant to denigrate the victims.

"The Bible says women are not to cut their hair, that hair is a blessing and is part of a woman's beauty and it belongs to their husband. To have hair forcefully cut is to be shamed," Cushman said.

"For the men with a beard, you can only begin to grow a beard when you get married. It is a symbol of full status, a symbol of your adult manhood. Again, for it to be cut is to be shamed," she said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/amish-attacks-ohio