54-year-old South Carolina restauranteur Bobby Paul Edwards was sentenced to 10 years in prison for enslaving and physically abusing Chris Smith, an intellectually disabled black man, for at least 17 years.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor in June 2018 for forcing Smith to work 100 hours a week without pay. In addition to his prison sentence, Edwards was ordered to pay $272,952.96 in restitution to Smith.
Edwards managed his family's restaurant between 2009 and 2014, where he hurled racial epithets at Smith, beat him with a belt and other objects, and he would also burn Smith's neck with hot tongs to make him work faster. Smith who is now around 40-years-old, had worked at the restaurant since he was 12, although the abuse didn't start until Edwards took over. A frequent customer at the restaurant notified authorities when they saw scars on Smith's body. Smith was subsequently removed from the restaurant by authorities and Edwards was arrested upon further investigation.