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Religious college president arrested for forcing foreign students into labor

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The president of Cathedral Bible College in Marion, South Carolina was arrested on May 22 on charges of forced labor upon foreign students, according to The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News.

The eight international-student complainants allege Reginald Wayne Miller, 65, forced them to work as much as 56 hours weekly in menial tasks unrelated to their studies, including cleaning Miller’s personal home and caring for campus grounds. While told before their enrollment at the school that they would be paid $100 weekly for a work-study program, the students say they were only paid $25 or $50, and with lapses in payment as long as two months.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, F-1 and M-1 visas required of foreign students restrict them to weekly maximums of 20 hours of work “that must be an integral part of the student’s educational program.” Foreign student pay must be of the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or higher, as well.

The complainants, whose identities remain unreleased by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, allege that Miller threatened to cancel their student visas and then report them as illegal aliens to Immigration and Naturalization Service if they did not meet his work demands. At least one stated that no enrollment in “real” classes was offered to foreign students.

According to the complaint filed following a DHS investigation, the campus living arrangements were substandard, too, and foreign students were forced to reside without hot water, heating or air conditioning. Food provided to the complainants was described as “expired or insufficient for consumption and nutrition,” the affidavit reads.

Should Miller provide the $250,000 bond set by Magistrate Judge Thomas Rogers at a May 23 hearing, he will not be allowed to communicate with any foreign students, both current and former. He will also be kept under house arrest with electronic monitoring.

This isn’t Miller’s first encounter with the law, according to The (Columbia) State. In 2006 he was arrested by an undercover officer at a Myrtle Beach bath house, and charged with prostitution and lewdness. The charges were expunged following Miller’s completion of a pre-trial intervention program.

A non-accredited school, Cathedral Bible College offers degrees from Associate to Doctorate level in theology. Its website says the school began its international studies program in 1999, and to currently have over 200 foreign students from 32 different countries.

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