A white restaurant manager accused of enslaving and abusing a mentally disabled black man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in South Carolina on a charge of forced labor.
Federal prosecutors say Bobby Paul Edwards used â€śforce, threats of force, physical restraint, and coercionâ€ť to compel John Christopher Smith to work as a buffet cook at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, S.C., for more than five years.
Edwards would force Smith to work from dawn until late into the night, seven days a week, with little or no pay, no benefits and no vacation time, Smith alleged. Some days he would leave so exhausted and weak he had to be carried home and â€śphysically fed drink and food.â€ť
Smith described Edwards like a slave driver. He said the manager would call him racial slurs, and threaten to â€śstompâ€ť his throat and beat him â€śuntil people would not recognize him.â€ť
Edwards also assaulted him regularly, sometimes taking Smith into the restaurantâ€™s freezer or back office to keep others from noticing, the lawsuit said.