White South Carolina Man Charged With Enslaving A Black Cook

The alleged abuse took place at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway South Carolina which Edwards managed and where Smith worked

A white SC restaurant manager is accused of enslaving and torturing a mentally disabled black employee, according to The Post and Courier.

The victim was subjected to these conditions for five years beginning in September 2009 at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, just inland of the SC resort town of Myrtle Beach, officials said.

Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, was indicted on Wednesday on one count of forced labor.

Smith alleges in the 2015 lawsuit that Edwards addressed him using racial slurs and threatened to beat him "until people would not recognize him", while working Smith seven days a week, for 18-hour days, without benefits or vacation time and little or no pay. On another occasion, when Smith didn't bring food out to the buffet fast enough, Edwards took Smith into the back of the restaurant and whipped him with a belt buckle, according to the complaint.

"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. The victim, John Christopher Smith, 39, reportedly had worked at J&J Cafeteria for more than 20 years without issue until Edwards took over as manager in 2010.

Court documents also describe assaults that included choking, slapping and closed-fist punches - all while his attorneys claim he earned less than $3,000 per year and was "called the N-word repeatedly", according to the Post and Courier.

"We deny any allegations of slavery and abuse", Edwards' lawyer Scott Bellamy told the Journal Constitution.

Bellamy told the paper, "We don't believe there was any slavery involved". "That word - in the climate we're in in this country, quite frankly - makes it even more of a story". "It's total abuse", Caines told the TV station. Edwards, who was arrested Tuesday, faces a forced labor felony carrying up to 20 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. If convicted, Edwards would have to pay restitution to Smith in addition to serving jail time.

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

Edwards allegedly told Smith that he had a bank account with more than $30,000 of his earnings, but Smith said he was never paid any of that money or given access to the account.

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. He was not reunited with them after being removed from the position at J&J Cafeteria in 2014.

Smith was rescued by social services in 2014 after they received a tip from the mother of another waitress who said she was aware of the abuse but was too afraid of her boss to speak out.

In late 2014 Edwards was captured on a state charge of second-degree ambush and battering, which is as yet pending, the Post and Courier revealed.

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