Monday, 23 October, 2017

Man accused of enslaving mentally disabled cafeteria worker

White restaurant manager enslaved black man for years, federal prosecutors say White Restaurant Manager who Accused of Enslaving Mentally Disabled Black Man for 5 Years Charged with Forced Labor
Patty Aguilar | 13 October, 2017, 08:46

Several reviewers said the restaurant would likely shut down following the allegations made by Smith over his treatment under Edwards' management.

The employee in question, Christopher Smith, and been working at the J&J Cafeteria for some 23 years and at the time had only been paid $2,842 a year even though he worked 18 hours a day, six days a week.

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

Smith, who has an intellectual disability, was allegedly hit with a frying pan, burned with grease-covered tongs and beaten "while being called the N-word repeatedly", lawyers said.

On the off chance that sentenced constrained work, Edwards faces up to 20 years in jail, a $250,000 fine and required compensation.

Like Smith, waitresses at the J&J Cafeteria were reluctant to come forward because they feared Bobby Paul Edwards, according to Geneane Caines, an advocate for Smith who said her daughter-in-law worked at the restaurant.

Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, is accused in the indictment of using "force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion" to enslave Smith at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, S.C. Conway is just inland from Myrtle Beach. But details about Smith's alleged enslavement were documented in a federal lawsuit civil attorneys filed on his behalf in late 2015.

On one occasion, when Smith was too slow about restocking the buffet, Edwards took Smith into the back of the restaurant and beat him with his belt buckle, according to the Washington Post's account of the lawsuit. The lawsuit remains unresolved, but Smith's attorney is hopeful for a conviction. Bobby was charged with second-degree assault, which is now pending in court, according to The Post.

Caines eventually reported the abuse and Edwards was arrested in late 2014 on a state charge of second-degree assault and battery, which is still pending, the Post and Courier reports.

Smith now lives and works on his own. He was immediately placed in the custody of Adult Protective Services.

Edwards was arrested Tuesday in connection with the indictment.

Though the indictment remains sealed, numerous details surrounding Smith's alleged enslavement were revealed in a 2015 lawsuit against Edwards; the man's brother and restaurant owner, Ernest J. Edwards; and the establishment, The Washington Post reported.

At the time of the lawsuit, Smith's lawyers said: 'The conduct in this case is as troubling as anything I h ave seen in nearly 20 years of practicing law, attorney W. Mullins McLeod Jr. said. "He believes that ultimately, justice will be served".

Asked what outcome he hopes for in the case, Smith told WMBF, "I want him to go to prison". "I want him to go to prison, and I want to be there when he go".

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