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South Carolina Restaurant Manager Charged With Enslaving Mentally Disabled Man

13 October 2017

Federal prosecutors claim Edwards used "force, threats of force, physical restraint, and coercion" on Smith by beating him with belts and forcing him to work with barely any breaks and little to no pay.

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

Edwards was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the indictment and of course, pleaded not guilty during a Wednesday hearing, but was ordered to be held without bail.

That didn't stop him working at J&J Cafeteria, a resturant in Conway, S.C. the 37-year-old began working at the establishment at 12, by washing dishes, busing tables rising to the chef duties. Smith was rescued during a field visit by the workers who received the information.

According to a lawsuit, Smith was also forced to work 18-hour shifts six days a week - and got paid less than $3,000 a year.

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.

Word of Smith's alleged abuse spread in 2015 after his attorneys in Charleston filed a federal lawsuit against Edwards, the business and its owner, Ernest J. Edwards, the suspect's brother.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday charged Bobby Paul Edwards, a 52-year-old manager at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, with one count of forced labor.

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

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"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 reads, per The Washington Post.

"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 a year ago.

Smith said he needs Edwards rebuffed.

Edwards' attorney, Scott Bellamy, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his client denies the charge. State assault charges against him are still pending. Workers allegedly discovered scars on Smith's back and placed him into Adult Protective Services' (APS) custody.

Edwards was arrested and charged with second-degree assault.

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

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

"I need him to go to jail, and I need to be there when he go", Smith told WMBF.

South Carolina Restaurant Manager Charged With Enslaving Mentally Disabled Man