Restaurant Manager Accused Of Enslaving Mentally Disabled Cook

Restaurant Manager Accused Of Enslaving Mentally Disabled Cook

A white restaurant manager in SC has been indicted by a federal grand jury after being accused of enslaving a disabled Black worker for five years.

The single count of "forced labor", announced Wednesday against Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, of Conway, South Carolina, alleges Edwards deployed "force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion" against buffet cook John Christopher Smith at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway from 2009 to 2014. Federal Bureau of Investigation and civil rights prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice began probing the case against Edwards, who was also arrested on a second-degree assault and battery state charge.

According to the Washington Post, Smith alleged that Edwards dipped a pair of tongs into hot grease and scalded the back of Smith's neck.

"Plaintiff was heard crying like a child and yelling, 'No, Bobby, please!'" read Smith's lawsuit.

"I want him to go to prison", Smith is reported to have said of Edwards, "and I want to be there when he go".

And he got paid less than $3,000 yearly, they said.

"We deny any allegations of slavery and abuse", Scott Bellamy, Edwards' lawyer, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) Thursday. "That word - in the climate we're in this country, quite frankly - makes it even more of a story".

He also claims Edwards was also forced to work from the early morning to late at night and received minimal, if any, pay.

Meanwhile Smith lived in a roach-infested apartment owned by Edwards behind the restaurant in conditions that Smith's attorneys described in the complaint as "sub-human" and "deplorable". On one occasion, Bobby allegedly whipped Smith with a belt buckle for not bringing food to the buffet fast enough.

The new federal charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution to the alleged victim, according to a document unsealed in U.S. District Court for the District of SC. If convicted, Edwards would have to pay restitution to Smith in addition to serving jail time.

Edwards, along with his brother and co-owner of the resturant maintain that they've done nothing wrong.

Smith names the restaurant, Edwards and his brother Ernest Edwards-who owns the establishment and allegedly ignored Smith's reports of the abuse-as defendants.

Caines s believed to have reported the abuse to authorities in October 2014, prompting social workers to check on Smith.

A white eatery administrator in SC has been arraigned for professedly oppressing a dark specialist with advancement delays for a long time and utilizing physical manhandle to constrain him to act as a smorgasbord cook. The Post reports that there is also a state case pending against Edwards; he was charged with misdemeanor second-degree assault after the 2014 removal.

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