Leach indicted on felony sexual assault charge

Photo courtesy of the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office.

TERLINGUA — Jeff Leach, a self-described diet and gut researcher and founder of Basecamp Terlingua, has for months denied that he assaulted any of the women who accused him of doing just that. When Katy Milam, a former Basecamp employee, told authorities in July that Leach had allegedly held her down and told her “he gets what he wants,” Leach sued her for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

As that lawsuit progressed, three more women filed affidavits accusing him of sexual assault and rape. But Leach maintained his innocence.

“I did not force myself on or assault Katy [Milam] in any way,” he stated in his own affidavit, from last year. He also denied the allegations made by the other women.

But a grand jury in Brewster County thought differently — finding at least one of the allegations against him credible. Late last month, they indicted Leach on a felony sexual assault charge.

The Brewster County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday took Leach into custody, announcing the news on social media.

Leach was released on $20,000 bond. As a condition of his release, he can’t have any contact with the victim named in the indictment. The Brewster County Jail confirmed on Tuesday that Leach was no longer in custody.

Of the at least four women who made allegations against Leach, just one is referenced in the one-page indictment. Leach allegedly “intentionally and knowingly” had sex with that woman “without [her] consent,” it states.

The woman — who has asked The Big Bend Sentinel not to name her in our reporting on Leach —filed an affidavit on November 5. In it, she stated that, in 2014, Leach raped her. “This was violent assault,” she stated. “There was no consent.”

After the alleged rape, the woman felt “weak and broken,” according to her affidavit.

“I avoided Terlingua,” she stated. “I was scared to return to Terlingua alone for some time.”

“Jeff Leach is a powerful man in this area,” she stated. “I worry about how he may have influenced people’s feelings about my reputation.”

Reached on Tuesday, that woman said she was aware of the indictment but declined to comment further.

The controversy against Leach has been a test case in unwanted publicity. In his lawsuit from September, Leach called Milam’s allegations against him “false defamatory statements” and demanded she stop.

Instead, three more women came forward. The local media, including The Big Bend Sentinel, and countless residents started following the case. Airbnb kicked Basecamp off its platform, citing “multiple sexual assault allegations.” And District Attorney Sandy Wilson convened a grand jury, which ultimately resulted in the indictment against Leach.