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Cafeteria manager receives 10-year prison sentence for enslaving mentally challenged Black worker

Bobby Paul Edwards was also ordered to pay $273,000 in restitution for the inhumane treatment of John Christopher Smith.

By Kia Morgan Smith, The Grio

Justice was finally served up for a white cafeteria manager in South Carolina, after he was handed a 10-year sentence for enslaving a Black worker.

Bobby Paul Edwards was accused of inhumane treatment of his Black employee John Christopher Smith who had intellectual disabilities. Edwards violently beat and intimidated Smith with threats for years at an eatery in Conway, according to the US Justice Department.

In 2018, Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor in the incidents, which allegedly happened between 2009 and 2014 at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina, CBS News reports.

According to a statement from the Justice Department, Edwards was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday. He was also mandated by U.S. District Court Judge R. Bryan Harwell, to pay Smith nearly $273,000 in restitution, the Justice Department said.

“It is almost inconceivable that instances of forced labor endure in this country to this day – a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.

“The Department of Justice will continue to investigate, prosecute, and convict human traffickers involved in forced labor, seeking justice on behalf of their victims.”

Sadly, Smith was afraid to lose his job. As a result of his fear, according to federal officials, tolerated the brute force and humiliation of a bullying boss who beat and overworked him for years.

Smith was not paid for years and suffered in silence, reports CNN.

He worked more than 100 hours a week without pay while Edwards hurled racist vitriol, called him the n-word, physically abused him by beating him with a belt, and hitting him with pots and pans.

“For stealing his victim’s freedom and wages, Mr. Edwards has earned every day of his sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon for the District of South Carolina.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate forced or exploitative labor in South Carolina, and we are grateful to the watchful citizen and our partners in law enforcement who put a stop to this particularly cruel violence.”

This article originally appeared in The Grio.

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