Bond modified for Bushey; D.A. refers to Necedah man as a 'leader of a cult.'

Juneau Count Star Times, Wisconsin/May 21, 2008

During an initial appearance in Juneau County Circuit Court Monday afternoon, bond was modified for Alan A. Bushey. The 58-year-old Necedah man is being charged with two counts of causing mental harm to a child after the body of a 90-year-old woman was decaying in a Necedah residence for two months under his instruction.

Juneau County Circuit Court Judge John Roemer granted a bond modification and lowered the amount Bushey must post from $25,000 to $10,000. Bushey is not allowed to have contact with Tammy Lewis, 35, the woman who lived in the home where the body was found. He is also not to have contact with Lewis' two children, or a woman by the name of Sister Mary of Joseph Sumler.

Thomas Steinman, Bushey's attorney, requested his client's cash bond be modified to a signature bond.

"There is no indication that my client has the opportunity or the ability to raise funds for bail," Steinman said.

He said Bushey has lived in Necedah for the past 10 to 11 years, and during that time has been celebrating mass with his parishioners, two of whom were in the courtroom during the appearance Monday.

Steinman said Bushey is "a man of the cloth," and said a signature bond would be appropriate for his charges.

"I do not feel Mr. Bushey is a man of cloth, but the leader of a cult," Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth said.

Southworth said he feels Bushey is a flight risk, since he is not originally from Necedah, and only came to the area to set up his parish.

At the appearance, Steinman provided the court with a certificate of ordination from the old Catholic church. "They do have different beliefs than what the people believe in Rome, but it is not a cult," Steinman said.

A preliminary hearing for Bushey is scheduled for Thursday May 29 in Juneau County Circuit Court. A competency hearing for Lewis is scheduled for May 27.

Mental harm to children charges

The charges against Bushey and Lewis, who is also charged with causing mental harm to children, were filed after a Juneau County Sheriff's deputy found the body of Alvina Magdelina Middlesworth, 90, decomposing for more than two months in a Necedah residence on Shrine Road.

Lewis, 35, and her two children, ages 15 and 12, were living in the home with Middlesworth since 2005, when Middlesworth moved to Necedah from Washington to be a part of Bushey's church, the Immaculate Conception.

According to court documents, the deputy discovered Middlesworth's body after conducting a welfare check on the elderly woman May 7.

Lewis told the deputy in early March she was helping Middlesworth dress when the woman passed out in her arms. Lewis said she called her "superior," Bushey, who told her to place Middlesworth's body on the toilet and begin to pray.

During the initial investigation, Lewis told deputies that Bushey said he had received "signs from God" that if she prayed hard enough, Middlesworth's body would "rise from the dead."

According to a search warrant, which was filed last week, Middlesworth had a joint checking account with Lewis, and 25 checks had been written since Middlesworth's death in March. Southworth said social security and annuity payments continued to be deposited into the account, but declined to say what the checks were used to pay for.

Southworth said he intends to file additional charges of hiding a corpse and theft by fraud. "I am waiting for additional information," Southworth said. "I want to have all the facts before I file charges."

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