Local News

Third arrest made in alleged cult abuse case

Posted July 2, 2008
Updated July 3, 2008

— Police charged a third person Wednesday in connection with beatings and rape that authorities say were carried out by a satanic cult.

Diana Palmer, 44, of Cottage Woods Court, surrendered to police Wednesday afternoon. She was charged with being an accessory after the fact of assault with a deadly weapon and was being held in the Durham County Jail.

Palmer posted $30,000 bond Wednesday and was released from jail.

Joseph Craig, 25, has been charged with kidnapping, rape, forcible sexual offense and assault in the case. His wife, Joy Johnson, 30, has been charged with aiding and abetting. Both were being held Wednesday in the Durham County Jail.

The couple was arrested last week after a man and a woman told police they were beaten, shackled to beds, kept in dog cages and starved inside a home on Albany Street. Craig is accused of committing the crimes while his wife watched.

Police executed a search warrant at 2305 Albany St. Wednesday.

Assistant Durham County District Attorney Mark McCullough said during a Monday court hearing that the two people met Craig through a shared interest in Satan worship, but they never consented to the abuse.

Palmer "vehemently denies" any ties to satanism or to any cult, said her attorney, William Thomas.

A woman claiming to represent the Church of Satan said Craig and Johnson aren't members and denounced the allegations against them.

"Our church is, without exception, against all illegal acts. Our dogma is clear and concise on the issue of sexual abuse and crime in general: If you do it, you can be excommunicated," Ygraine Mitchell wrote in an e-mail to WRAL.

Palmer is first vice chair of the Durham County Democratic Party. Johnson resigned her positions as third vice-chair of the Durham County Democratic Party and vice-chair of the Young Democrats following her arrest.

"Diana is extraordinarily trusting and caring. I don't think she would ever knowingly do anything wrong," county party Chairman Kevin Farmer said.

State Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, called the case "an isolated incident" and said he doesn't expect any other Democratic Party activists to be implicated.

The county party's Web site was disabled Wednesday, but Farmer said that was related to a technical problem and not the allegations against Palmer and Johnson.

Prosecutors asked Wednesday that the bonds be increased for Craig and Johnson, but District Judge Nancy Gordon refused and left Craig's bond at $500,000 and Johnson's at $270,000.


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  • pulstar40 Jul 3, 2008

    From City Girl 08 "Ophite Gnostics were an ancient sect that worshipped the serpent. Very complicated stuff, but boils down to devil worship."

    It is complicated, but from what I read, the Ophite Gnostics worshipped the serpent because that entity gave wisdom...both good and evil to mankind, enabling that knowledge to be passed down through the generations, including to Christ. Many of them believed that Christ and the Serpent were one in the same. Many of them did believe that Christ was the Savior, but simply in the sense that he too imparted wisdom to mankind, among other reasons.

    Of course IF these people are guilty of what they are accused of, then by all means they should be punished. But this whole Satanism aspect is ludicrous. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  • Timbo Jul 2, 2008

    Irrespective of the religion issue, it seems to me that the Durham DA/cops are going over the top again. Someone has already said that this reminds them of the Duke LAX case, and I have to agree.

  • ncsufamily24 Jul 2, 2008

    You Democrats beat all I've ever seen. Just for laughs, please
    continue entertaining the voters of North Carolina for a few more months.

  • city_girl_08 Jul 2, 2008

    People wondering about the website not having anything to do with satanism-Someone modified it since the arrest. The board member's profile below those two has been changed. It stated he found Ophite Gnosticism to be right for him under the guidance and teachings of Craig. It has been removed. Ophite Gnostics were an ancient sect that worshipped the serpent. Very complicated stuff, but boils down to devil worship.

  • bcinnc2002 Jul 2, 2008

    The Church of Satan is not the only strain of satanism, just as there are catholics, baptist, etc, there are several strains of satanism.There are theistic, traditional, LaVeyan(Church of Satan, who do not even believe Satan exist) Luciferian, etc. For the media to say C.O.S. has nothing to do with them means nothing. This case has nothing to do with religion, it is really wether or not the defendants committed a crime or not. Innocent until proven guilty.

  • ifcdirector Jul 2, 2008

    "The Devil Wears Lane Bryant"

    I love that!

  • greentara Jul 2, 2008

    This story is completely hilarious!!! satanism? I cant decide what is funnier; the people who believe the allegations of satanism or the couple involved who got 'satanized'. Sometimes I wonder where on earth I'm living.

  • doodad Jul 2, 2008

    From their webpage;'Alin wants to change the world, wants to purge it of dishonor, corruption and weakness as such he joined in 2006 the Social Democratic Party (becoming a vice president among the youth three months after joining)

    I needed a good laugh today.

    I can't imagine ANYONE being desperate enough to read this bull and actually contact these clowns for "cleansing" and spiritual growth.

  • Deacons Jul 2, 2008

    Come on people, yet another Democrat, we have to vote Republican, even though they may not be what they should be they are A LOT better than these liberal, democratic clowns.

  • rlewis Jul 2, 2008

    "The site talks about achieving world peace...alot like the book The Celestine Prophecy did. Not anything even remotely "satanic" on the website."

    The satanic cult allegations came from what the victims told the police apparently.