White restaurant manager enslaved black buffet cook

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Bobby Paul Edwards is seen in a booking photo released September 3, 2017, by the Horry County Sheriff's Office.

After the case was brought to light in 2015, a federal grand jury in sc has indicted a white manager on charges of forced labor on an African-American disabled employee. A U.S. Department of Justice release alleges that he used force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion on the victim between 2010 and 2014. Edwards was arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty during a hearing on Wednesday.

The full title of the charge is "attempt to establish peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude or human trafficking".

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

Though the indictment was unsealed, it remained inaccessible to the public as of Thursday morning. Edwards who owns J&J Cafeteria, by civil attorneys on Smith's behalf in late 2015.

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As indicated by WMBF, Smith started working at the eatery when he was 12 years of age as a waiting assistant and doing some cooking.

In the interview with WMBF, Smith said, "I want him to go to prison, and I want to be there when he go". Some days he would leave so exhausted and weak he had to be carried home and "physically fed drink and food". He said the manager would call him racial slurs, and threaten to "stomp" his throat and beat him "until people would not recognize him". A woman whose daughter-in-law worked at the restaurant at the time and became an advocate for Smith said that other employees feared telling authorities.

In one instance, Smith said, Edwards dipped a pair of tongs into hot frying grease and scalded the back of his neck. On one occasion, Bobby allegedly whipped Smith with a belt buckle for not bringing food to the buffet fast enough.

"[The victim] was kept from his family and forced to live in sub-human conditions in a cockroach-infested apartment directly behind the Cafeteria which was owned by Defendants", a 2014 statement from the law firm read.

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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Smith's lawsuit against the brothers remains unresolved, according to the report.

Smith's alleged enslavement was detailed in a federal lawsuit, filed against Edwards and his brother, Ernest Jr. Both have denied wrongdoing.

The cook, John Christopher Smith, was reportedly enslaved for five years at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach.

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. Workers allegedly discovered scars on Smith's back and placed him into Adult Protective Services' (APS) custody.

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