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Man accused of enslaving mentally disabled cafeteria worker

Two arrested for stealing cell phones and attempting to sell online

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) -- A South Carolina restaurant manager has been charged with abusing and enslaving a mentally challenged employee.

Media outlets report 52-year-old Bobby Paul Edwards of Conway pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one count of forced labor. He was ordered held without bail.

Authorities say Edwards used force and threats to force 39-year-old John Christopher Smith to work as a J&J Cafeteria cook from 2009 until 2014. Court documents describe beatings with a belt, choking, slapping, punching with a closed fist and burning with tongs used in hot grease.

Smith has been diagnosed with delayed cognitive development that results in intellectual functioning significantly below average. He is suing Edwards and the restaurant owner, saying he wasn't paid or given time off or benefits.

Edwards' attorney didn't respond to outlets requests for comment.


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