South Carolina White Restaurant Manager Accused of Mentally Disabled Black Worker

White restaurant manager enslaved black man for years, federal prosecutors say

A white restaurant manager in SC has been charged with enslaving a black buffet cook for at least five years, according to a federal indictment unsealed this week.

Edwards was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the indictment and of course, pleaded not guilty during a Wednesday hearing, but was ordered to be held without bail.

Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, is accused of using "force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion", as well as other tactics, to compel the disabled victim to work, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Court documents describe beatings with a belt, choking, slapping, punching with a closed fist and burning with tongs used in hot grease.

The disturbing case happened to John Christopher Smith, who was suffers from a mild delayed cognitive development, resulting him to function below average.

All the while, Smith lived in squalor behind the restaurant in a roach-infested apartment owned by Edwards, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also accused Edwards of repeated abuse, saying he hit Smith with objects including a frying pan and forced him Smith to work, to the point the man was so weak he had to be carried home.

And Smith, who is black, said Edwards, who is white, called him racial slurs.

"Plaintiff was heard crying like a child and yelling, 'No, Bobby, please!' After this beating, Defendant Bobby forced Plaintiff to get back to work", the complaint read, according to the Post.

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Edwards's attorney Scott Bellamy didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Bobby was charged with second-degree assault, which is now pending in court, according to The Post.

Smith has become a "very happy, very outgoing" person since leaving the restaurant in late 2014, according to Caines.

Smith, who claims to have scars on his neck to prove some of the alleged abuse, said he never told anyone out of fears for his safety.

Smith had worked at J&J Cafeteria for 23 years, but accusations against Edwards surfaced toward the end of Smith's tenure as a buffet cook.

"Costumers that were going in there would hear stuff and they didn't know what was going on, and they would ask the waitresses, and the waitresses were so scared of Bobby they wouldn't tell them then what it was", Caines told WMBF previous year.

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

Edwards was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The following year, Smith filed a lawsuit against him and his brother.

Last year, Smith told WMBF that he hopes Edwards gets punished for his alleged deeds.

"He would beat me with belts and all that", Smith told WMBF News in 2015.

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