South Carolina Man Charged with Forcing Victim with Intellectual Disability to Work at Restaurant
An indictment was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina charging Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, of Conway, S.C., with one count of forced labor, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Beth Drake of the District of South Carolina.
According to the indictment, over a five-year period, between September 2009 and October 2014, Edwards used force, threats of force, physical restraint, and coercion, among other means, to compel the victim, who has an intellectual disability, to work as the buffet cook of J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina. Edwards managed the restaurant at the time of the alleged incidents.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of forced labor, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and mandatory restitution.
The case is being investigated by FBI’s Myrtle Beach Resident Agency. It is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Jared Fishman and Trial Attorney Lindsey Roberson of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alyssa Richardson of the District of South Carolina.