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As a white South Carolina man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for forcing a black man with an intellectual disability to work in his restaurant, without pay, for a year, authorities said Wednesday.
Bobby Paul Edwards, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor for the hatchery, Christopher Smith, to work over 100 hours a week for no pay at the Y&J Cafeteria, as he did, in Conway, a Justice Department statement said.
Edwards was also ordered to pay nearly $273,000 in restitution to Smith.
“It is almost inconceivable that, in the cases of forced labor to persist in this country, to this day, a century-and-a-half after the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Deputy Attorney General Eric Dreiband, the department of justice’s Civil rights Division.
Federal prosecutors said Edwards abused the Smith’s both physically and emotionally, so for him for a number of years working in the restaurant. He used to beat him with belts, fists, pots, pans, and Smith made a mistake or didn’t work fast enough, they said.
Bobby Paul Edwards.
(Horry County Sheriff’s Department)
“At the same time, he dipped a metal pair of tongs in the hot grease, and burnt the victim in the neck. The defendant further called upon the victim and using racist remarks to belittle and humiliate him,” u.s. department of justice statement said.
In 2017, in an interview with WPDE-TV, Smith said that he wanted to leave the toxic environment, but couldn’t find anywhere to turn.
“I had nowhere else to go. I just couldn’t do it, no one in my family, so that was the end of that, ” he said. “That’s the main thing I wanted was for my mother to see me. I wasn’t able to see my mother — and I couldn’t talk to anyone.”
The Ministry of Justice said a concerned resident reported to His authorities, in which Smith was removed from the city in October, 2014. He was, in the first instance, be charged with the crime of sexual assault, but the local NAACP chapter, and pushed for more serious charges which reflect the seriousness of the offence.
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He worked at the restaurant since he was 12-years-old, was working as a dishwasher, WMBF-TV reported. The news station said that the restaurant was owned by His brother.
Sherri A. Lydon, the chief Prosecutor of the u.s. for South Carolina, said her office will not tolerate them being forced, or explosive work.
“For the theft of the victim’s liberty, and wages, Mr. Edwards has earned every day of his sentence,” she said.