Mentally challenged man says employer beat him with belts for years

theGRIO REPORT - A mentally challenged South Carolina man has allegedly been physically abused by his employer for years...

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A mentally challenged South Carolina man has allegedly been physically abused by his employer for years.

Thirty-seven-year-old John Christopher Smith has been working at J&J Cafeteria in South Carolina since he was just 12 years old, washing dishes after school. He told WMBF he enjoyed his job until the owner’s brother, 50-year-old manager Bobby Paul Edwards, began to physically abuse him in 2010.

“He would beat me with belts and all that,” Smith, who has been diagnosed with mild delayed cognitive development, a condition that means he functions intellectually well below average, told WMBF. “Take the tongs to the grease on my neck.” Other incident involved choking, slapping, and punching with a closed fist.

Geneane Caines, Smith’s advocate, says her daughter-in-law was a waitress at the restaurant.

“Well, costumers that were going in there would hear stuff and they didn’t know what was going on, and they would ask the waitresses, and the waitresses were so scared of Bobby they wouldn’t tell them then what it was,” she says.

But Caines decided to report the abuse and took Smith to the NAACP for help as well as contacting social services.

Watch the full report on the alleged abuse below:, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Edwards has been arrested and charged with second degree assault, though Abdullah Mustafa, the local NAACP chapter president, believes the charges should be stricter.

“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,” he says. He also adds, “We are talking about enslavement here.”

Edwards is currently out on $10,000 bond on the condition that he cannot go anywhere near Smith and cannot leave the state without permission.

Smith has been taken to an undisclosed location for his safety, but Caines says he is already doing better after leaving the restaurant. “He’s a total different person now; he holds his head up high, he’s very happy, very outgoing, he don’t even act the same,” she says.