White Manager Abused And Enslaved Mentally Disabled Employee
A white man from South Carolina, who managed a buffet near Myrtle Beach, admitted in federal court this week that he had beaten and verbally abused a mentally disabled black cook, forcing him to work over 100 hours a week without pay for five years, according to the Justice Department.
In pleading guilty, 53-year-old Bobby Paul Edwards said that he had used violence, threats, isolation and intimidation against the victim, John Christopher Smith. Edwards could face up to 20 years in prison.
During the sentencing, the Myrtle Beach manager admitted that while he was in charge from 2009 to 2014, he beat Smith with a belt, punched him, hit him with pots and pans and burned his bare neck with hot tongs, according to a statement released by the Justice Department on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, he also used abusive language and racial epithets against his employee.
Mr. Smith is now around 40 years old, and had worked at J&J Cafeteria since he was 12–the Justice Department explains that he feared losing his job. In 2014, the authorities removed him from the premises after receiving complaints about his abuse.
Edwards was indicted by a federal grand jury in South Carolina back in 2016 and was arrested, but pled not guilty at the time.
John Gore, acting assistant attorney general, said in the Justice Department’s statement: “Human trafficking through forced labor can happen on farms, in homes, and as today’s case shows — in public places, such as restaurants. Edwards abused an African-American man with intellectual disabilities by coercing him to work long hours in a restaurant without pay.”
In addition to any prison time, Edwards faces a possible fine of up to $250,000 and mandatory restitution to the victim. A date for sentencing has not yet been scheduled.