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Attorney denies suspect's knowledge of alleged cult crimes

Posted July 3, 2008

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— A second woman charged in connection with crimes authorities say were carried out by a satanic cult had no knowledge of them and did not participate, her attorney said Thursday.

"My client maintains her innocence and denies any involvement whatsoever in this entire episode," Durham attorney Bill Thomas said. "The alleged victims of this crime have told the Durham Police Department that my client was not present, nor did she have anything to do with this."

Diana Palmer, 44, of Cottage Woods Court was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of accessory after the fact of assault with a deadly weapon.

But police, in a warrant for Palmer's arrest, said she knew about an alleged assault and assisted Joseph Scott Craig with "removing items of evidence of the crime(s)" from a residence on Albany Street in Durham.

Craig, 25, and his wife, Joy Johnson, 30, were arrested last week after a man and a woman told authorities they were beaten, shackled to beds, kept in dog cages and starved.

The warrant for Palmer's arrest states she put the evidence in her trunk and "drove her vehicle to another location in an effort to conceal those items from detection of the Durham Police Department."

"She denies knowing about any crime, being connected with this crime or having anything at all to do with Satanism or any assault of any nature whatsoever," Thomas said, describing his client as a New Age Christian.

Thomas would not elaborate but said there could be problems with the credibility of two witnesses in the case.

Palmer was out of jail on a $30,000 bond Thursday; Craig, who is charged with three counts of second-degree kidnapping, one count of second-degree rape, one count of second-degree forcible sex offense and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, was in the Durham County jail under a $500,00 bond.

Johnson, charged with two counts of aiding and abetting, was being held under a $270,000 bond.

Assistant Durham County District Attorney Mark McCullough said during a bond hearing on Monday that a man and a woman met Craig through a shared interest in Satan worship, but the pair never consented to physical abuse.

Court documents filed this week accuse Johnson of "instigating and encouraging" her husband as he handcuffed the man and forced him "into a dog cage, leaving him there for hours, terrorizing him."

"This goes well above what they were interested in doing," McCullough said.

The documents said the incidents occurred in December 2007 and in January and May.

Craig's attorney, however has questioned whether authorities misunderstood was taking place inside his client's home, saying

"It sure seems to look like sadomasochism or some kind of consensual activity that maybe went too far," defense attorney Woody Vann told The News & Observer of Raleigh. "While it may not be normal activity for our everyday population, that doesn't mean it's criminal."

Craig and Johnson operate a business called Indigo Dawn Inc. that is described on a Web site as a spiritual growth service offering "past life reconstruction" and "communication with spirit guides."

The site talks about Johnson's activism and describes Craig as a reverend and a "devout student of magick."

Johnson was also the third vice-chair of the Durham County Democratic Party and vice-chair of the Young Democrats. She resigned from those positions following her arrest.

Palmer is first vice chair of the Durham County Democratic Party. She has not resigned, and state Democratic Party officials said they are waiting for more information about the case.

31 Comments

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  • greentara Jul 3, 2008

    aha! Finally the truth comes out. I knew all this talk about 'satanism' was ridiculous. Funny as heck though. Just curious, how can the other couple be taken seriously if there were three separate incidents? Does that not indicate consent?
    And why oh why do the dingbats have to blather on and party bash? What do these two individuals possibly have to do or not do with the present or future president? I'm not sure they are competent to run anything more than a new age website. I think their position in the Dem party was fairly easy to procure and not in any way powerful or decisive on future issues. Go to craigslist if you want to rant and rave about democrats or republicans.

  • Sumo Vita Jul 3, 2008

    I think you've mixed your contexts, "sweetsea". It was a DEMOCRATIC president that left us with a prosperous, great nation just 7 years ago.

    Meanwhile, it was your precious REPUBLICAN adminstration that has brought our once-healty republic to it's knees in a very short time, REPUBLICANS that have brought us oil-company pandering and the high gas prices that go with it, REPUBLICANS that brought us the disastrous FEMA response to Katrina and 'heckuva job Brownie', REPUBLICANS that brought us "Constitution = toilet paper" Gonzalez, REPUBLICANS that took us into the disatrous, murderous, trillion-dollar war in Iraq, REPUBLICANS that have ruined our standing in the world, REPUBLICANS that have promoted the collapse of environmental regulations, REPUBLICANS that have our current economy spiralling down the toilet.

    Get your head out of the sand - failing which, I'll be glad to remind you of the incredibly irony of your fear-mongering and the speciousness of your argument at each attempt.

  • jasonkills32 Jul 3, 2008

    "I just happen to believe that the democrats will change our status from the greatest nation on earth to third world status if they have the White House and both houses of Congress. They favor socialism and I had rather not live under such a system. They get nuttier by the day. And I can't adide McCain but I had rather have tropical storm McCain than Typhoon Obama. Obama will be a disaster if elected. I just hope my country hasn't gotten that crazy yet. The nation could at least survive McCain relatively intact."

    What your looking for is the 3rd world war with McCain

  • sweetsea Jul 3, 2008

    I just happen to believe that the democrats will change our status from the greatest nation on earth to third world status if they have the White House and both houses of Congress. They favor socialism and I had rather not live under such a system. They get nuttier by the day. And I can't adide McCain but I had rather have tropical storm McCain than Typhoon Obama. Obama will be a disaster if elected. I just hope my country hasn't gotten that crazy yet. The nation could at least survive McCain relatively intact.

  • jasonkills32 Jul 3, 2008

    if anyone knows about this story these people where pagans not satanist and for the people that put in there two cents today with all the "well what wold you expect from dems" now we can see why we got stuck with bush

  • Ken D. Jul 3, 2008

    "FloydTurbo, I laughed out loud at the same statement. You have to have done something REAL bad to get excommunicated from the Church of Satan!"

    Actually, it's worse. Once you are excommunicated, the only way to get reinstated is to join the Republican Party or get a letter of recommendation from Dick Cheney.

  • APO75 Jul 3, 2008

    sweetsea
    July 3, 2008 11:25 a.m.
    Report abuse

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    How can you associate something which happened in Durham with Obama and while I am at it, let's be mature enough to call him
    by his given name - Barack Obama. How many people call G. Walker Bush. We all know that it is a STUPID way to say that he is Muslin, which he is NOT. NEWSFLASH: This is 2008, it is time that you grow up and join the rest of us ADULTS!!!!!!!!

  • rlewis Jul 3, 2008

    "The Democrat Party in Durham sure sounds like they have a lot more fun than the Republicans do - may have to check that out..."

    "Fun"? Flogging people and locking them up in dog kennels, starving them, etc? I'd hate to see your idea of a bad night.

  • ifcdirector Jul 3, 2008

    And the Chinese all you can eat buffet has the video to prove it.

  • Just the facts mam Jul 3, 2008

    The Democrat Party in Durham sure sounds like they have a lot more fun than the Republicans do - may have to check that out...

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