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
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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday February 7, 2009.
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