Suspects face arraignment in beard assault case
Richard Armitage (really!), ComicCon, San Diego, July 14, 2012. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
San Diego (R[A]euters)
Four members of a tiny Californian Amish-defense sect will be arraigned in U.S. federal court on Thursday. The suspects are accused of posing as room service staff in order to stage an attack on the beard of English actor Richard Armitage, 40.
The four women, who range in age from 18 to 74, infiltrated a room service kitchen at a San Diego hotel on Saturday. They delivered his dinner order in order to gain access to his room. Once admitted, the youngest member of the group, Maya Caulfield, 22, is alleged to have thrown herself directly at Armitage in order to push him down on the hotel bed, while a second member stood ready with restraints. A third woman stood lookout. The eldest member of the group, Alona Lahan, 74, had pulled her heavy duty battery-powered electric beard clipper out of a bag before the surprised actor was able to respond.
Responding to a request for comment, Armitage’s U.S. publicist noted that his most recent film includes several scenes in which the hirsute actor fends off ogres who want to remove his beard, so the actor was able to dispatch his attackers with alacrity once he realized what was going on.
But this recognition took awhile. “When I opened the door,” the modest actor said in police reports that were leaked to the press today, “I realized they were fans and not room service staff. I have a very diverse fan base and just thought this was a harmless group of women who really liked long dresses, aprons, and white caps. I was well gobsmacked by the aprons, which had pictures of me on them, and by the assault.”
Federal charges were entered because of the likelihood that the attempt to denude Armitage’s charming chin constitutes a hate crime, prosecutors said today. In addition to the hate crimes charge, the suspects have been accused of committing fraud to obtain confidential information, fraud to obtain employment, criminal trespass, and several counts of assault with unsanitary facial hair technology.
“This crime was clearly religiously motivated,” the U.S. attorney stated. “Documents obtained from the women’s purses indicate that they began their plot when industry rumors suggested that Armitage would be cast in a found-footage tornado super-hero drama set in Lancaster County, to be called The Plain Tornado. The suspects feared that Armitage’s beard would defile the purity of the image of real Amish men’s beards, and although the women themselves are not Amish, they decided to perpetrate this attack to prevent him from taking the role.”
Industry insiders admit that a script for a film called The Plain Tornado has been circulating. In it, a young Old Order Amish man, Lucas Yoder, becomes fascinated with tornadoes after his young wife is snatched by one. True to his faith but taken prisoner by his weather obsession, Yoder begins tornado-chasing with his buggy and pair of bays, running after tornadoes and succumbing to the temptation of a gas-powered tornado radar system, which he hides from his young son in the barn. When his curious son is killed in a propane explosion, Yoder’s grief transforms him into “The Plain Tornado,” a super-hero who retains his Amish appearance, beard, and faith but rescues Amish people who are tempted by tornado-chasing technologies from their darker desires. A love interest is provided in the story by Yoder’s wife, Ellen, whom he occasionally glimpses in funnel clouds during his rescue efforts. His ongoing search to be re-united with his wife was included in the script to increase its franchise possibilities.
The women’s information was slightly dated, however. Armitage found the possibility of a franchise attractive, and he had considered taking this role, his publicist stated, especially when Cate Blanchett was in talks to play the plain woman, Ellen. But according to his publicist, the actor felt that after Spooks 9 he had strained both his artistic capacity to act nonsense roles, and the willingness of his fan base to accept improbable scripts.
Armitage was rushed by helicopter to San Diego Area Beard Emergency Care after the incident, but apart from a few pulled beard hairs, remained unharmed.
Armitage was in town to promote a recent film he spent two years working on, one that is expected to go straight to DVD. His hopes to promote the film, however, were not affected by the attack, which occurred after his appearance at a convention that hardly anyone attended. Indeed, it is not entirely clear how the women knew that Armitage was currently bearded, since hardly any press took pictures of the actor.
The women who attacked are believed to be members of a group called Amish Novel Facial Hair Fans Against Armitage (ANFHFAA). It is not known if there are any other members of the group. Interpol is investigating connections to similar radical groups across the globe.