Associated Press
An Amish man attends to his horse and buggy in the parking area of a shopping plaza in Middlefield, Ohio on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011.

CLEVELAND — An Amish preacher testified Wednesday that he watched three men cut his father's hair and beard during an attack last fall that left his father shaking and relatives screaming.

Andy Hershberger was the first witness in the federal trial of a breakaway Amish group from the U.S. state of Ohio accused of hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish. Prosecutors say Hershberger's father was among those attacked because he and the leader of the breakaway group had religious differences.

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Andy Hershberger testified that his father, an Amish bishop, pleaded for the men not to shear him. But he said within minutes, the hair from his father's beard had been cut and scattered across the floor. He said clumps of hair were missing from his father's head and his scalp was bleeding.

Prosecutors say his father, Raymond Hershberger, was targeted because he was among several bishops who had religious disagreements with Sam Mullet Sr.

Attorneys for the defendants argue that the Amish are bound by different rules guided by their religion and that the government shouldn't get involved in what amounted to a family or church dispute.