As Jeff Leach’s defamation case resumes, new witnesses come forward, and new filings shed light on sticker campaign

BREWSTER COUNTY — As Basecamp Terlingua founder Jeff Leach’s legal battle against a woman who accused him of assault heads toward a December trial date, recent filings in the drawn-out civil suit have unearthed new, decades-old allegations of violence and aggressive behavior against the prominent hotelier. 

Documents obtained by subpoena, meanwhile, provide new insight into an alleged campaign to discredit the accuser. Records show Anna Oakley, identified in court filings as Leach’s romantic partner, ordered hundreds of the “Katy Lied” stickers that were found throughout Brewster County after Katy Milam accused Leach of assault.

In sworn affidavits filed last month, two women share their alleged experiences with Leach many years prior, recounting a “physical” altercation and a sexual experience in which Leach allegedly became “aggressive.” These are the latest of several allegations against the hotelier — which have included threats, physical violence, sexual assault and rape — that have emerged throughout the protracted legal battle. The civil suit began in 2019, when Leach sued Milam for reporting an alleged assault at his hands to the police, and resumed this year after a lengthy detour through the appeals court. 

Through legal representation, the two women asked that their names be redacted from our coverage.

The first woman, who said she was involved romantically with Leach between 2004 and 2006, alleges that Leach became “physical” with her during a fight. “Jeff threw me down on the floor and pinned me down,” she said, and noted he had been drinking prior to the fight. She further states that Leach “lost it while drunk and broke windows and things more than once,” which frightened her.

The second woman, who said she was friends with the first woman during this time, describes in her affidavit an “uncomfortable” sexual experience involving the three of them in which Leach allegedly became “aggressive” and “pinned [her] down,” then penetrated her “before I was ready.” The next day, she said, she saw he had left bruises on her.

“I had bruises on my arms around my biceps where he held me down,” she said.

The second woman also recalls witnessing the aftermath of an incident described in the first woman’s affidavit, in which Leach allegedly broke “every single bottle of red wine on the kitchen floor.” The first woman called this incident “very disturbing.” The second woman, in her affidavit, describes the first as having “the symptoms very much of an abused woman,” recalling that she became depressed and secluded while with Leach.

The witnesses have come forward as both parties prepare for an anticipated trial date of December 12 — the culmination of a years-long legal battle that has spanned courts and spawned a now-dismissed criminal case.

When former Basecamp Terlingua employee Katy Milam, who also goes by Schwartz, told authorities in 2019 that Leach had pinned her down and said he “gets what he wants,” Leach swiftly responded with a lawsuit accusing Milam of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

Through those civil proceedings, more women began coming forward with similar allegations — three women filed affidavits in 2019 and 2020 accusing Leach of sexual assault and rape. Yet another woman said in a police report — which surfaced during the civil proceedings — that in 2015 Leach had “grabbed her and shoved her around” while in a rage, throwing things around the house; that woman was granted a restraining order against Leach in 2017 when she said he had threatened her.

One of the affidavits filed in 2020, by Shawna Graves, who claimed Leach raped her in 2014, led to Leach being indicted on a felony sexual assault charge. Though the criminal case had been poised to go to trial under former District Attorney Sandy Wilson, it was dismissed in May at the request of DA Ori White, who cited insufficient evidence. Graves protested the dismissal in a witness statement submitted to the court. Former District Attorney Sandy Wilson lambasted White’s decision, arguing the case would have been strong enough to yield a conviction.

The civil case, meanwhile, just resumed this year after a lengthy detour through the Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso. When the suit was tossed in 2020 by a Brewster County judge, who ruled Milam was protected by the First Amendment, Leach appealed that decision. The appeals court eventually overturned the lower court’s dismissal in May of this year, stating inflexible deadlines for filing the dismissal had been missed. After two years on hold, Leach’s suit against Milam would move forward.

In July, Milam filed a countersuit against Leach, reasserting her allegation of assault and accusing him of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is also suing Anna Oakley, accusing her of assisting and encouraging Leach in his alleged assaultive behavior and of intentionally inflicting emotional distress by telling others that Milam lied. 

In support of these claims, Milam’s countersuit has pointed to the rectangular stickers emblazoned with the message “Katy Lied” that were distributed widely in public after she filed her report. Now, order histories provided by custom sticker company Sticker Mule — the result of a subpoena submitted by Milam’s lawyer, Jodi Cole — show that Oakley ordered hundreds of those very stickers, beginning in October of 2019, the month after Leach first sued Milam.

Oakley first ordered 50 of the stickers on October 4, 2019, records show, before ordering an additional 200 on October 21. She ordered 200 more on January 29, 2020, 300 on July 3 of that year, then 200 more on September 13. 

In an amended petition to add Oakley as co-defendant in the countersuit, Cole argues that Oakley is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Milam “by manufacturing and distributing stickers that stated that Defendant lied” throughout the case. The countersuit argues that Leach and Oakley are jointly and severally liable to Milam for up to $1 million in damages.

Leach himself is slated to be deposed on November 10, court records show. Cole declined to provide further comment on the pending case. Leach and Oakley’s attorney, Rae Leifeste, did not return requests for comment by press time.