Palmer faces judge in alleged satanic sex case

July 4, 2008 8:33:15 AM PDT
Prosecutors have charged three people, including two ranking members of the Durham County Democratic Party, as part of an investigation into allegations of rape and kidnapping that prosecutors said involved satanic worship. The latest person charged is Diana Palmer, 44, the first vice chairwoman of the county Democratic Party. She turned herself in to police Wednesday afternoon and was charged with one count of accessory after the fact of assault with deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

In court Thursday, Palmer walked out without much to say. "I made my statement thank you!"

Her attorney, William Thomas, denied Palmer's role in the criminal case involving satanic rituals and kidnapping.

"My client maintains her innocence and denies any involvement in this episode," Thomas said.

Palmer's arrest came five days after police arrested Joy Johnson, 30, the county party's third vice chairwoman, and her husband, Joseph Scott Craig, 25.

Craig faces three counts of second-degree kidnapping, one count of second-degree rape, one count of second degree forcible sex offense and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Johnson faces several counts of felony aiding and abetting.

Johnson and Craig allegedly kidnapped a couple, raped the woman and beat the man over a period of six months as a part of a satanic ritual.

Palmer is charged with accessory after the fact. Investigators say she tried to hide several itms int he trunk of her car. Palmer's attorney said both victims didn't see Palmer. "The alleged victims of this crime told the police department that my client was not present nor did she have anything to do with this and we intend to fight these charges vigorously," William Thomas said.

Court documents filed this week said the incidents occurred in December 2007 and in January and May. The warrants accuse Johnson of "instigating and encouraging" her husband as he handcuffed a man and forced him "into a dog cage, leaving him there for hours, terrorizing him."

Other charges against Johnson stem from accusations made by a woman who listed the couple's home as her address. The man listed in the warrants as having been caged also lived at the house.

Craig and Johnson are being held in the Durham County Jail. The Durham County Public Defender's office was still in the process of assigning attorneys to their case.

Bond was being set for Palmer late Wednesday. The three were partners in a company called Indigo Dawn. Its Web site says the company offers services including "intuitive guidance, past-life regression, spirit guide communication and healing and cleansing."


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