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Judge: Cult case will go to trial

Posted July 14, 2008
Updated July 15, 2008

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— A Durham County judge ruled enough evidence exists in an alleged cult abuse case to send it to Superior Court.

Both victims were present for the probable cause hearing Monday afternoon.

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

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

Craig's attorney argued Monday that the victims – a 19-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman – were not held against their will and could have left at any time.

Defense attorney Woody Vann said both victims had jobs, and had access to cell phones and vehicles. He said, "The acts were consensual if they happened at all.”

The victims allegedly met Johnson and Craig through the Web site for Indigo Dawn Inc., a business that the couple operated.

According to the search warrant in the case, Johnson and Craig described themselves as teachers of the Order of the Morning Star. The male victim went to live with the couple in November 2007, the female victim a month later.

According to the warrant, the male victim said he sustained numerous beatings and abuse from Craig with Johnson. On two occasions, the male victim said he was handcuffed to his bed by his hands and feet with a chain around his neck “and left there for a day without food or water.” The man also said he put in a dog cage for several hours.

Both victims said they were beaten with a cane. The female victim claimed Johnson held her hands down as Craig beat her with a cane. The female victim also reported being raped by Craig while Johnson watched.

All the alleged abuse occurred at a home on Albany Street in Durham. Investigators seized items including a computer, cell phone, digital camera, Web cam, brown rug, notepads, boxes of pictures and two black, studded straps.

Court documents 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."

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

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  • nodoginthisfight Jul 14, 2008

    The democratic party at it's best, makes one wonder about people like Nifong and Obama.

  • TheAdmiral Jul 14, 2008

    Democrats are EVIL!

  • FragmentFour Jul 14, 2008

    There is something SERIOUSLY wrong here - why on earth would one investigator be the only person with access to the victim(s) contact information? I don't mind cutting LEOs some slack on occasion, but this sounds like a policy issue that needs to be stopped immediately.