Mentally Disabled Black Restaurant Worker Enslaved, Abused By White Manager, Prosecutors Say

White SC restaurant manager accused of torturing ‘enslaving’ mentally challenged black man	 	 	 			Bobby Paul Edwards

White SC restaurant manager accused of torturing ‘enslaving’ mentally challenged black man Bobby Paul Edwards

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. He pleaded not guilty during a hearing Wednesday in Florence and was ordered to be held without bail.

According to the Post Courier, Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, was charged with forced labor by the U.S. Attorney's Office on Wednesday for enslaving employee Christopher Smith at a Conway eatery.

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

Smith has been diagnosed in the past with mild delayed cognitive development, a condition that results in intellectual functioning significantly below average.

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

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According to The Courier, lawyers claimed that Bobby would also beat Smith with frying pans and butcher knives all "while being called the N-word repeatedly".

Smith's lawsuit says he never told anyone of the enslavement because he was afraid Edwards would kill him.

Edwards' attorney, Scott Bellamy, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his client denies the charge. 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.

The lawsuit accused Bobby of holding more than $30,000 of Smith's earnings in a bank account that Smith had no access to.

Smith, who is mentally disabled, worked at J&J Cafeteria as a buffet cook.

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"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.

Smith has become a "very happy, very outgoing" person since leaving the restaurant in late 2014, according to Caines. When social workers checked on Smith, they found scars on his back.

Horry County court records show Edwards' rap sheet is lengthy and includes charges for burglary, assault, resisting arrest and shoplifting. Smith said. "I want him to go to prison, and I want to be there when he go".

"Customers 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 local station WMBF in 2015.

"Our client is very appreciative of the efforts put forth by the USA government in its investigation", David Aylor, an attorney for Smith, told the Post and Courier Wednesday.

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"I want him to go to prison", he said, "and I want to be there when he go".

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