MAUSTON, Wis. – A member of a religious sect pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor after being accused of leaving another member's corpse in her bathroom so the group could collect her government pension checks.
Tammy Lewis, 36, was fined $350 for obstructing an officer, while prosecution was deferred on the more serious charges against her. She'll receive mental health treatment and testify against sect leader Alan Bushey at his trial in April, District Attorney Scott Southworth said.
Prosecutors accuse Lewis and Bushey of leaving 90-year-old Magdeline Middlesworth's body on the toilet in Lewis' home after she died there in March.
A criminal complaint says Bushey led the Order of the Divine Will sect and told Lewis that God would revive Middlesworth. The decaying body was found in May after Middlesworth's family expressed concern.
Prosecutors say they believe Bushey and Lewis wanted to go on collecting Middlesworth's government pension payments.
The other charges against Lewis, including felonies of hiding a corpse and causing mental harm to a child, will be dismissed in two years if she cooperates and follows other court orders involving her children, Southworth said.
"We view her as a victim as well of Alan Bushey," Southworth said. "We also understand the power, the mental power, that Alan Bushey was exercising over her, the coercion he was exerting over her."
Lewis' attorney, Dan Berkos, said his client turned to Bushey and the sect for support about three years ago, after she separated from her husband.
The attorney said Lewis is "very relieved" her case has been resolved. "She has made some really great progress emotionally and even physically. She is looking forward. She is no longer looking backward at how things should have been different."