Durham County Democratic Party officials are shocked about allegations that a local Democratic leader was involved in satanic rituals that included shackling people to beds, caging them, and depriving them of food and water.

Joy Johnson, 30, a third vice chairwoman of the county Democratic party and vice chairwoman of the Young Democrats, was charged Friday with two counts of aiding and abetting.

Her husband, Joseph Scott Craig, 25, was charged with second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for an incident in January and another in May.

"Part of the allegations are that satanic worship is part of this case," said Mark McCullough, an assistant district attorney, when the two appeared in court Monday morning after spending the weekend in the Durham County Jail.

Floyd McKissick, a state senator and a Democrat from Durham, said Monday that he had been told that Johnson had resigned her posts with the party.

"I was absolutely shocked and flabbergasted," McKissick said. "You never would have suspected allegations that she would have had any participation in these rituals."

Craig has been charged with beating a man with a cane and a cable cord, and assaulting a woman with a wooden cane and raping her.

A judge set Johnson’s bail at $270,000. Craig’s bail was set at $500,000. Each was ordered to stay away from the accusers.

Jeremy Collins, president of the Durham Young Democrats, has known Johnson for several years. After following the Duke lacrosse case and seeing the phony gang-rape charges ultimately dismantled and dismissed, Collins said he would reserve judgment until the facts of this case were revealed.

"If it’s true, then it’s extremely unfortunate and a shock to all of us," Collins said.

During her time as a party official, Johnson was interested in trying to attract more young Democrats and get them involved in the political process, acquaintances say.

Johnson and Craig, along with Diana Palmer, first vice chairwoman for the local Democrats, are partners in a company called Indigo Dawn. The company’s Web site says Indigo Dawn offers products and services "to promote enlightenment and assist in the development and self-empowerment and divine potential."

Among the services offered, according to the Web site, are "intuitive guidance, past-life regression, spirit guide communication and healing and cleansing."


(E-mail Anne Blythe at anne.blythe(at)newsobserver.com,)

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