A civil rights charge has been filed against a white restaurant manager who is accused of enslaving and abusing a developmentally disabled black male worker for over five years at his South Carolina restaurant.
The “forced labor,” suit against 52-year-old Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, South Carolina, says that Edwards used “force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion” against John Christopher Smith a buffet cook at his e J&J Cafeteria in Conway between 2009 and 2014.
Edwards who pleaded not guilty was ordered held without bail.But his attorney denies any allegation of slavery against his client and labels the charge as an attempt to establish slavery and human trafficking.
Smith it was declared in a pending federal lawsuit filed on his behalf in 2015 states that Smith, had worked at the restaurant which is owned by Edwards’ brother without issues for more than twenty years before Edwards took over as manager.
Edwards is alleged to have addressed Smith using racial slurs and threatening to beat him until would become unrecognizable while working him.His work schedule was seven days a week, without any benefits or vacation with little or no pay.
Smith who was diagnosed with delayed cognitive development said Edwards would beat him with belts.
Edwards was arrested in 2014 and charged with second-degree assault of Smith.That case is still pending.
The manager is said to have told the victim that his earnings were paid into a bank account that had about $30,000, but Smith said that he had not received any of it.
Meanwhile Smith allegedly lived in a cockroach-infested house owned by Edwards at the back of the restaurant in conditions described as deplorable.
The federal charge carries a 20 years maximum prison sentence, mandatory restitution to the victim and a $250,000 fine.