This is our archive of news items tagged Order of the Divine Will.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Cult leader Alan Bushey sentenced in corpse case

Sect leader gets prison time in Wis. corpse case

MAUSTON, Wis. — A judge sentenced the leader of a religious sect to 2 years in prison Wednesday for hiding an elderly follower’s rotting body on a toilet for weeks.

Alan Bushey, 59, of Necedah, kept Magdeline Alvina Middlesworth’s corpse on the toilet of another follower, Tammy Lewis, for two months last spring. Middlesworth, 90, moved to Necedah from Washington state in 2005 to join Bushey’s sect, the Order of the Divine Will.

Prosecutors said Bushey kept the body hidden so he could collect Middlesworth’s Social Security checks and annuities. Bushey’s attorney, Thomas Steinman, argued that Bushey thought God would bring Middlesworth back to life.

“A miracle like that is part of the Christian faith,” Steinman said. “He truly believed she would come back from the dead.”

Bushey appeared at the hearing in a black cassock with a crucifix around his neck. He told Juneau County Circuit Court Judge John Roemer Jr. that he should have known God would raise Middlesworth from the dead without his involvement.

“I should have called the coroner and leave the supernatural to God,” Bushey said.

Roemer, who called the case “horrific,” said living with a rotting corpse devastated Lewis’ daughter, now 16, and son, now 14. District Attorney Scott Southworth said they had to use a bucket in a closet for a toilet. Bushey told them that a demon was making the body decay and that they weren’t praying hard enough to bring Middlesworth back to life, Southworth added.

Southworth called Bushey’s group a cult and Bushey a “warped” con man. His church, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Russia in the Americas, defrocked him in 1998 but Bushey continued to pass himself off as a clergyman, Southworth told the judge.
[…]

– Source / Full Story: Sect leader gets prison time in Wis. corpse case, Todd Richmond, AP, July 23, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Alan A. Bushey, also known as Bishop John Peter of the Order of the Divine Will Church, was given three years of extended supervision to follow his prison sentence for being a party to the crime of hiding the corpse of 90-year-old Magdeline Alvina Middlesworth.

Juneau County Circuit Court Judge John Roemer Jr. ordered Bushey to have no contact with his co-defendant, Tammy D. Lewis, or her two children and to undergo domestic abuse counseling and not act as a member of the clergy.

Lewis, 36, who now lives in Montello, was given a two-year delayed prosecution for her part in the incident. She has a review hearing on her case scheduled for November, 2010.
[…]

Bushey told Lewis and the children that if they prayed and believed, Middlesworth would come back to life. When the decomposing body began to smell, the children were told it was because they didn’t believe enough and were punished because of it, according to documents.

During the time between Middlesworth’s death and her discovery, her Social Security checks and annuity payments continued to go into an account from which Lewis, whose name also was on the account, withdrew money to pay bills for herself, Bushey and the church.

– Source / Full Story: Church leader gets two years for hiding corpse, Karen Madden, Wausau Daily Herald, June 22, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Cult leader Alan Bushey pleads no contest to hiding body

Collected dead woman’s social security checks

MAUSTON, Wis. — A religious leader pleaded no contest today to hiding a rotting corpse on a follower’s toilet.

Prosecutors charged Alan Bushey, 58, of Necedah last spring with hiding a corpse, two counts of causing mental harm to a child and two counts of theft. Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth agreed to drop the mental harm and theft counts in exchange for Bushey’s plea, according to online court records.
[…]

Prosecutors have said Bushey, also known as Bishop John Peter, led a religious community called the Order of the Divine Will. Investigators said a 90-year-old member of the group, Magdeline Alvina Middlesworth, lived with member Tammy Lewis and her children.

Middlesworth’s friends and family said she was from Washington state but moved to Necedah in 2005, despite warnings she was getting involved with a dangerous cult.

Lewis kept Middlesworth’s remains propped up on the toilet after Middlesworth died in March 2008, court records said. She told investigators Bushey told her to leave Middlesworth’s body in the bathroom and pray for God to bring her back to life.

But investigators contend Bushey and Lewis kept the body hidden so they could go on collecting Middlesworth’s Social Security checks and annuities, and this traumatized Lewis’ children.
[…]

– Source: Wis. cult leader pleads no contest to hiding body, AP via the Boston Herald, Feb. 5, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Bushey pleads no contest in plea deal

Bushey will be sentenced May 5. The felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of $25,000. The court also reduced his bail to 20 percent of the current $50,000, or $10,000 cash.

The other charges against Bushey — two counts of causing mental harm to a child and two counts of theft related to the dead woman’s bank accounts — were dismissed in a previously announced plea deal with prosecutors.

Those counts, however, will be considered at sentencing, according to the agreement.
[…]

Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth declined to comment in advance of the May sentencing, citing the sensitive nature of the case.

Since the charges were filed, Bushey has been evicted from the Necedah home/church where he lived and all of the church’s property, including the building — a house converted to a small church — and Bushey’s vestments were auctioned. By most accounts, there were fewer than a dozen church members.

– Source: Bushey pleads no contest in plea deal, Peter Rebhahn, Juneau County Star Times (Wisconsin), Feb. 7, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Religious cult member convicted but viewed as victim of cult leader

Tammy Lewis and Alan Bushey A woman charged with helping to hide a corpse in her Necedah home is also a victim of the man who is charged with directing that failed resurrection, lawyers for both the prosecution and defense said Monday.

“We do regard (Tammy Lewis), at least in part, as a victim of this cult activity,” said County District Attorney Scott Southworth. [Read more...]