A White restaurant manager who beat, tortured and enslaved a mentally disabled Black employee for several years has now been ordered to pay him $546,000.
In November of 2019, Bobby Paul Edwards was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the abuse and “forced labor” of John Christopher Smith, who worked extensive hours at the restaurant in Conway, South Carolina, without pay, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Edwards was ordered to pay Smith $272,952.96 in restitution. However, according to Post and Courier, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled this month Smith should receive a total of $546,000 “because of federal labor rules that entitle him to double the pay and overtime he was owed.”
Smith, who has intellectual disabilities, worked at the restaurant since the age of 12. But it wasn’t until Edwards became a manager in 2009 when the abuse began, CNN reports.
During the five years Edwards was manager — between 2009 and 2014 — he beat Edwards with a belt, hit him with pots and pans, hurled racial epithets at him, and even burned the victim’s bare neck with hot tongs to make him work faster, federal officials said, according to CNN.
“I wanted to get out of there a long time ago. But I didn’t have nobody I could go to,” Smith said in a 2017 interview with WPDE.
He also said that Edwards forced him to live in a room behind the restaurant and was ordered to stay in the kitchen when his relatives would come to the restaurant, WPDE reports.
“I couldn’t go anywhere,” he added. “I couldn’t see none of my family.”
After five years of abuse and forced labor, working more than 100 hours a week, a frequent customer noticed scars on Smith’s body and called authorities. They then removed Smith from the restaurant, WPDE reports.
A local court accused Edwards of assault, which is a misdemeanor, but the local NAACP office in Conway pushed for tougher charges, WMBF reported.
In June of 2018, Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor and was sentenced to 10 years in November of 2019.
(Photo: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)