Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace

South Carolina Restaurant Manager Beat, Burned Mentally Challenged Employee With Tongs

The abuse lasted for years.

Photo Credit: WMBF

A 37-year-old South Carolina man accused a longtime employer of abusing him over a four-year period, WMBF-TV reported on Monday.

“I want him to go to prison,” John Christopher Smith said of his former manager, Bobby Paul Edwards. “And I want to be there when he goes.”

Smith has been diagnosed with mild delayed cognitive development. Despite being mentally challenged, Smith has been able to work at J&J’s Cafeteria in Conway since he was 12 years old. He told WMBF he was afraid to come forward with his allegations regarding Edwards before coming forward late last year.

“He would beat me with belts and all that,” Smith said of Edwards. “Take the tongs to the grease on my neck.”

Court documents state that, according to Smith, Edwards began abusing him in 2010. At various points, Edwards allegedly choked, slapped and punched Smith.

WMBF reported that Smith’s caretaker, Geneane Caines, contacted state officials and asked the local NAACP chapter to help him.

“Anyone who is rational and has any sense of logic should realize once you have the facts right here, it should be more than just assault,” chapter president Abdullah Mustafa said. “We are talking about enslavement here.”

According to WMBF, a local medical group confirmed that scars on Smith’s back came from hot tongs. Edwards was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and battery following a complaint from the state Department of Social Services. He is currently free on a $10,000 surety bond, on the condition that he not go near Smith. He is due in court on March 13.

Officials have placed Smith in an undisclosed location to guarantee his safety following Edwards’ arrest.

Check out WMBF’s full report on Smith, as aired on Monday.

Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. His work has appeared on GlobalComment.com, the Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt.