Local News

Prosecutor: Couple's crimes related to cult

Posted June 30, 2008 2:04 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2008 10:53 a.m. EDT

— A Durham couple charged with kidnapping, rape and assault was involved with a satanic cult, a prosecutor said on Monday.

Joy Johnson and Joseph Craig appeared at a bond hearing Monday. A judge set Craig's bond at $590,000, but refused a prosecution request to increase Johnson's bond from $270,000 to $500,000.

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

Craig shackled his victims to beds, kept them in dog cages and starved them inside his Albany Street home, prosecutors said. He was charged with beating the man with a cane and a cord and with raping the woman.

"This goes well above what they were interested in doing," Assistant Durham County District Attorney Mark McCullough said.

Johnson, who was third vice-chair of the Durham County Democratic Party and vice-chair for the Young Democrats, was charged with two counts of aiding and abetting. Prosecutors said she knew her husband planned the crime and watched as they were committed.

She has resigned her positions with the Democratic Party, said state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham.

"She seemed to be a very open, reasonable, responsible person, but certainly, the allegations that have been made are shocking to everybody who has known her," McKissick said. "We wish her the best going through this difficult and trying time."

Johnson also resigned her position as office manager for the Durham People's Alliance.

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."

One neighbor who declined to give his name came to court Monday to support the couple and held up messages behind the courtroom's glass partition.

"(They're) innocent until proven guilty," the man said.

Craig and Johnson were ordered to have no contact with their victims.

Prosecutors said they anticipate more charges will be filed against the couple.