CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – According to the United States Department of Justice, Bobby Paul Edwards has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after he coerced an intellectually disabled man to work extensive hours at his restaurant without pay.
Edwards is also ordered to pay $272,952.96 in restitution to the victim, according to a press release. Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor in June of 2018, he was sentenced on Wednesday.
Court documents only refer to the victim as JCS.
“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.”
“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 abusive enslavement of a vulnerable person is shocking. The FBI is always vigilantly searching for these offenses and stands ready to bring perpetrators to justice and help victims reclaim their lives. We understand human trafficking takes many forms and we encourage anyone with information related to these crimes to contact the FBI,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris.
The press release says that Edwards admitted in court that between 2009 and 2014 he used violence and other coercive means to compel JCS to work over 100 hours a week for no pay. Edwards also subjected JCS to physical and emotional abuse whenever JCS made a mistake or did not work fast enough. That includes beating JCS with belts, pots, pans and on one occasion dipping metal tongs in hot grease and burning the victim’s neck.
According to the press release, Edwards also yelled at JCS and used racial slurs to belittle and humiliate him.
JCS was removed from the situation in October of 2014, according to the press release.