Wisconsin cult leader pleads no contest to hiding body

Associated Press/February 5, 2009

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.

Bushey faces up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines when he's sentenced May 5.

His attorney, Thomas Steinman, didn't immediately return a message left at his office Thursday morning. Southworth's office declined to comment.

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.

Lewis pleaded no contest to obstructing a police officer in November and was fined $350.

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