COUNCIL CHRONICLE – A 53-year-old South Carolina cafeteria could spend the next 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty to having forced a mentally challenged employee to work without pay. Court documents reveal that Bobby Paul Edwards forced John Christopher Smith to work 100 hours per week, and would, at the time, use physical force to keep the man in line.
Cafeteria Manager Burnt Employee’s Back with Hot Tongs
On Monday, Bobby Paul Edwards, a former J&J Cafeteria manager, pleaded guilty to forced labor. Edwards confessed before the magistrates that he deliberately forced a mentally challenged African-American employee to work more than 100 hours per week without any pay.
According to court documents, Smith, Edwards’ employee, has been working at the Conway cafeteria since he was 12. What started as a dishwasher job, it soon took a turn for the worst.
Smith told the magistrates that between 2009 and 2014, Edwards made him work long shifts, most of the time without paying him. He also said that everyone in the cafeteria was afraid of him.
The prosecutors revealed that Edwards was especially hard on Smith. When the man failed to meet his expectations in the kitchen, the cafeteria manager would threaten him with unemployment. Sometimes he would use his fists to make Smith take on more duties or to work faster in the serving line.
Smith also declared that Edwards would frequently use racial slurs when talking to him. And, apparently, Edwards’ hate for his mentally challenged employee was so deep-rooted, that he would burn his back with hot tongs.
And now, the former cafeteria manager waits for the jury’s verdict. If he’s found guilty, he could very well spend the next 20 years behind bars. Based on the verdict, the court could also order him to pay a $250,000 fine.
Image source: Wikipedia