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

South Carolina White Restaurant Manager Accused of Mentally Disabled Black Worker

Christopher Smith was abused by 52-year-old Bobby Paul Edwards for five years reports the Post and Courier.

On Wednesday, Edwards argued not blameworthy to one tally of constrained work and was requested held without safeguard.

Smith worked at J&J Cafeteria for over 20 years, starting at the young age of 12. Smith was rescued during a field visit by the workers who received the information.

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.

Smith's attorney, David Aylor, said Smith was "very appreciative" of the efforts by federal prosecutors and believes that "justice will be served" in the case, he told the Post and Courier.

Prosecutors say Edwards and his brother Ernest, who owns the restaurant but who has not been arrested, forced Smith to work 18 hour days and paid him less than $3,000-a-year between 2009 and 2014.

Bobby Edwards had already been arrested on a state charge of second-degree assault and battery, which remains pending, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation and civil rights prosecutors from the Department of Justice also started probing the case.

In addition to possible prison time if he's convicted, Bobby Edwards would face paying mandatory restitution to the victim.

According to the Washington Post, Smith alleged that Edwards dipped a pair of tongs into hot grease and scalded the back of Smith's neck.

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"Plaintiff was heard crying like a child and yelling, 'No, Bobby, please!'" according to the suit, which accused the cafeteria's owner of knowing about the alleged abuse but doing nothing to stop it. Edwards acquired the manager role in 2010, which is when things began to take a turn for the worse.

The brothers allegedly told him they were keeping all of his earnings in a bank account but never gave him access to it.

Edwards' attorney didn't respond to outlets' requests for comment.

"Clients that were going in there would hear stuff and they didn't comprehend what was happening, and they would ask the server, and the servers were so terrified of Bobby, they wouldn't reveal to them then what it was", she said.

Geneane Caines, Smith's advocate, eventually learned of the abuse and reported it to authorities in October 2014.

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

Edwards also assaulted him regularly, sometimes taking Smith into the restaurant's freezer or back office to keep others from noticing, the lawsuit said. He was immediately placed in the custody of Adult Protective Services.

In February of a year ago, attorneys for Smith dismissed Edwards from their lawsuit "without prejudice", indicating that they were considering amending their complaint or seeking remedies in criminal court.

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

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