White restaurant manager in SC charged with enslaving black cook

Federal prosecutors allege that Edwards "used force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion" to compel Christopher Smith, 39, to work at the restaurant from September 2009 to October 2014. The suit, which also names Edwards's brother, the restaurant's owner, as a defendant, is pending.

The full title of the charge is "attempt to establish peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude or human trafficking".

Smith's case reached headlines in 2015 when he sued Edwards for the enslavement.

State social workers vetted a tip from someone concerned for Smith's safety and came to Smith's rescue, the Courier reported.

Smith has become a "very happy, very outgoing" person since leaving the restaurant in late 2014, according to Caines.

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The lawsuit accused Bobby of holding more than $30,000 of Smith's earnings in a bank account that Smith had no access to.

Reports about Edwards' behavior has emerged in the past, such as when Smith alleged to South Carolina TV station WMBF that Edwards had been torturing him for years.

Smith worked for 23 years at J&J Cafeteria, but at the end of his time working as a buffet cook, social workers were tipped off about the disgusting conditions Smith was forced to endure. Smith's attorneys described the conditions there as "sub-human", "deplorable" and "harmful to human health".

"Plaintiff was heard crying like a child and yelling, 'No, Bobby, please!' After this beating, Defendant Bobby forced Plaintiff to get back to work", the complaint read, according to the Post. Bobby was charged with second-degree assault, which is now pending in court, according to The Post. The complaint claimed Bobby reported that the victim made less than $1,000 per quarter-despite him regularly working 18-hour days.

Edwards, along with his brother and co-owner of the resturant maintain that they've done nothing wrong.

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"Clients that were going in there would hear stuff and they didn't comprehend what was happening, and they would ask the server, and the servers were so terrified of Bobby, they wouldn't reveal to them then what it was", she said. Workers allegedly discovered scars on Smith's back and placed him into Adult Protective Services' (APS) custody.

Though the indictment remains sealed, numerous details surrounding Smith's alleged enslavement were revealed in a 2015 lawsuit against Edwards; the man's brother and restaurant owner, Ernest J. Edwards; and the establishment, The Washington Post reported.

Horry County court records show Edwards' rap sheet is lengthy and includes charges for burglary, assault, resisting arrest and shoplifting. For his part, Smith said he wants to see Edwards punished for what he endured. "And he believes that ultimately, justice will be served".

"He would beat me with belts and all that", Smith told WMBF News.

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