FOX News reports that a South Carolina restaurant manager has pleaded guilty to enslaving and abusing a mentally challenged black worker. Bobby Paul Edwards, 53, pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of abusing and enslaving a mentally challenged employee.
Edwards is pleading guilty to one count of forced labor, and admitted he used violence, threats, isolation and intimidation against a black male employee with a mental disability. He also forced the man to work over 100 hours per week without pay.
Edwards worked as the manager of J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina, which is a town just outside of Myrtle Beach. He was employed there from 2009 to 2014. John Christopher Smith, the victim in the case, started working at the restaurant when he was only 12.
As his manager, Edwards increased the workload and responsibilities of Smith over time and eventually stopped paying him. He abused Smith by hitting him with a belt, punching him and beating him with pots, pans and hot tongs.
Smith never came forward because he was afraid. Customers began to suspect that Smith was being abused and the authorities were contacted. Smith was escorted from the restaurant in 2014, and Edwards was arrested a month later.
Edwards faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was indicted on these charges in October 2017. He was previously arrested in 2014 on state charges of second-degree assault and battery.
*Photo credit Fox News