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Judge Reduces Sentences For Amish Involved In Beard-Cutting Attacks

A federal judge in Cleveland has reduced the sentences of 16 Amish men and women who were convicted of cutting the beards and hair of their detractors.

If you remember, an appeals court threw out their hate-crime convictions last summer, saying the attacks were fueled by "interpersonal and intra-family disagreements, not the victims' religious beliefs."

The AP reports U.S. District Judge Dan Polster reduced the sentence of all the men and women including group leader Samuel Mullet Sr. The AP adds:

"Mullet's 15-year sentence was reduced to 10 years, nine months. Sentences for four men who received seven years were cut to five years. Sentences for three men who got five years were lowered to three years, seven months.

"The other eight, including six women, have served their sentences. Mullet is bishop of an Amish community in eastern Ohio."

Cleveland.com reports that Polster told the defendants that no matter what the appeals court had decided their attacks were religiously motivated.

"You chose a method that was particularly calculated to inflict trauma on (the victims) because they are Amish," Polster said, according to the paper.

As we've reported, for the Amish, beards are a sign of adulthood and a sign of marital status, so cutting the beard brings humiliation.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.