Local News

Judge lowers bond for woman charged in alleged cult abuse

Posted July 17, 2008

— A judge agreed on Thursday to reduce the bond for a woman charged in a case of alleged cult abuse after her lawyer argued that she was traumatized in jail.

The secured bond for Joy Johnson, 30, was lowered from $220,000 to $75,000. Johnson faces two felony charges of aiding and abetting for allegedly helping helping her husband, Joseph Craig, 25, abuse a 44-year-old woman and 19-year-old man.

Curran argued on Tuesday that Johnson suffers from health problems and has been traumatized by being in jail. Johnson has been held in the Durham County Jail since her arrest in June.

Assistant Durham District Attorney Jan Paul, however, said that a new bond hearing for Johnson was unnecessary, because one was held Monday, July 14.

Curran said on Thursday that she did not have enough time to properly argue for her client in the earlier hearing, which included two hours of testimony from the victims. Curran claimed that she was only notified of the hearing a half-an-hour before it took place.

At a hearing on July 7, a Durham County judge lowered Johnson's bond from $270,000 to $220,000.

Johnson and Craig were arrested after a man and a woman reported to police that they had been beaten, shackled to beds, kept in dog cages and starved.

Woody Vann, Craig's attorney, has argued that the victims were not held against their will and could have left at any time and that if the alleged abuse occurred, they were consensual acts. Both victims had jobs and access to cell phones and vehicles, Vann said.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.

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 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.

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


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • spartanpirate Jul 18, 2008

    Why in the world would any judge lower a bond because someone said that they had been traumatized in jail. Anyone could argue that in court. If she did the crime then she should be held to a higher bail. If she skips town then will that judge feel bad? I bet not.

    Who was the judge anyway? A woman or a man? Does the judge feel sorry for her? If there was a bail hearing on Monday, why didn't her attorney argue at that time that she had been traumatized? Probably because the accusers were there and they would have been outraged.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Jul 18, 2008


    This whole thing is BDSM gone wrong. Real Victims would keep in touch with the police and DA. The alleged "victims" were stupid enough to get involved with the accused.

    Hoepfully the truth will come out.

  • airbornemonty Jul 17, 2008

    What more is there to say, smart lawyer, stupid judge.

    Well one more thing that I will say, perhaps the smart lawyer should be on the bench and the stupid judge should be representing the woman, but then,this is North Carolina where the good ol' boys still rule.

  • Timbo Jul 17, 2008

    I think you are right, commonsensical. Sumpin don' seem right.

  • discowhale Jul 17, 2008


    I had not heard that the "victims" had left the state and can't be found. But if that's the case, then these jailed simps should go free and all the records should be destroyed. We are guaranteed to see our accusers.

    I still have a problem with this case, from when it hit the news. If two adults, agree to move into a house, because they answered an ad, for SATAN worshippers, I think they're on their own as far as being caned, spanked and abused in general.

    Did they think it was, a Satanic ceramics group?

  • faithwalker48 Jul 17, 2008

    The judicial system in North Carolina is one HUGE...GIGANTIC, JOKE!!!

    If you have the right connections you can, literally, get away with murder BUT, Heaven forbid you cannot afford a good attorney, and you can very easily find yourself pulling time for a crime you didn't commit...even though there is no evidence to support the allegations....JUSTICE SYSTEM?? Let me know when you locate it!

  • Scarecrow Cow Jul 17, 2008

    I'd rather see her in jail than out on the streets back in society. It's scary to think that people like her are among us.

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Jul 17, 2008

    any less traumatizing than what she was doing to others?

  • tsquaring Jul 17, 2008

    So, are the citizens of Durham going to take back the neighborhood and beat pots and pans in front of her house and call her names?

  • commonsensical Jul 17, 2008

    This may turn out like the Duke Lacrosse case - especially since the 'victims' have left the state and authorities can no longer contact them.