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Case dismissed against woman accused in cult crimes

Posted January 29, 2009

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— The case against a Durham woman accused of aiding in crimes that authorities say were carried out by a satanic cult was effectively dismissed Thursday when a judge denied a request to delay the case.

Dianna Palmer, 44, of Cottage Woods Court, was charged in July with one count of accessory after the fact of assault with a deadly weapon.

Police said Palmer knew about assaults alleged to have occurred in a residence on Albany Street in Durham and said she helped Joseph Scott Craig remove evidence from the house.

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

Prosecutors have said the man and a woman met Craig through a shared interest in Satan worship, but that they never consented to physical abuse.

Palmer and Johnson knew each other through the Durham County Democratic Party. Before they resigned their positions last year, Palmer was the party's first vice-chair, and Johnson was the third vice-chair, as well as the vice-chair of the Young Democrats.

Prosecutors asked Thursday for a continuance in Palmer's case, but defense attorney Bill Thomas objected, saying the case had dragged on for more than six months.

District Judge Nancy Gordon denied the continuance, effectively dismissing the case.

It was unclear why prosecutors sought the delay. They could revive the case if a grand jury were to indict Palmer on the accessory charge.

Because of Palmer's and Johnson's Democratic Party ties – Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline is a Democrat – prosecutors have discussed handing off the case to the state Attorney General's Office. They haven't made a formal request to do so, however, said Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office.

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."

Craig was charged with three counts of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count each of second-degree rape and second-degree forcible sex offense. Johnson was charged with two counts of aiding and abetting.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez has been questioned in the case. Lopez visited Craig's and Johnson's home at least once for a social gathering, sources told WRAL News, but it's unclear whether he would be called as a witness at trial.

No court dates have been set for either Craig or Johnson.

35 Comments

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  • 68_polara Jan 30, 2009

    So how often are delays requests denied in Durham County courts? Durham's corrupt politics, something's never seem to change.

  • oldfirehorse Jan 30, 2009

    "Prosecutors have said the man and a woman met Craig through a shared interest in Satan worship, but that they never consented to physical abuse." So, let me see if I'm understanding this. The alleged "victims" don't mind selling their soul to the dark one, and presumably live with him for eternity in his inferno, but they didn't agree to physical abuse? I thought our courts were jammed with lawbreakers. Do they have nothing better to do than pursue this nonsense?

  • MarcoPolo Jan 29, 2009

    How can a person see this spectacle and not think anything is wrong? Not tell somebody. Yeah, that would be a normal every day sight for me. Nothing new here. She should be in charged and indicted and jailed. Jails must be crowded.

    The Republic of Durham lives. It's good to be a Democrat.

  • fundybasher Jan 29, 2009

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

    So these 2 "victims" were "kidnapped" and went through all this terror in December...but apparently were let go, and then kidnapped and terrorized again in January...but apparently were let go, and then kidnapped and terrorized again in May.

    That's why it does not sound like a classic kidnapping case to me. I know - at least for me - when I kidnap people, I keep them. I don't let them out to go home and to their jobs etc.

    I guess I'm just old school when it comes to kidnappping and terrorizing people.

  • Clover Jan 29, 2009

    Good lord, just reading ths thread makes my head ache -- are their really this many morons in the Triangle? - Mango
    --------------------------------

    Wow, Mango, you sure are comfortably calling people names. If you had really read the comments on this post, you'd realize that many of them are about the larger story, not about Diana Palmer.

  • Cricket at the lake Jan 29, 2009

    Play with the devil and you will get burned.

  • Mango Jan 29, 2009

    By the way, being the second vice chair of a local Dem Party makes you a mover and shaker in the democratic party about as much as wiping down the copier glass at Kinko's makes you an office supply magnate.

  • Mango Jan 29, 2009

    Good lord, just reading ths thread makes my head ache -- are their really this many morons in the Triangle? Have none of you even bothered to read this story? Diana Palmer did not have nay thing to do with the so-called torture and no one ever said she did. She was accused of removing a cardboard box from the house where the torture supposedly happened and that was it, period. No one has ever said she was involved in anything else and she has said she had no idea the items in the box were related to a crime. The case needed to be dismissed because it was bogus from the start and charges never shuld have brought in the first place.

  • dbcooper41 Jan 29, 2009

    you guys who are trying to make this a political thing are pretty funny, or maybe just pitiful.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 29, 2009

    68_polara, do you care to explain, in detail, where RickyRay failed to meet your expectations?...'cuz you merely said he was wrong, but offered no explanation. The burden is on you to counter his assertion...or not...and look...ummm...well, you know.

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