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Judge dismisses sexual assault case against Basecamp Terlingua owner at prosecutor’s request

On Friday, a judge approved a motion brought forward by a local prosecutor to dismiss the case against Jeff Leach that was first brought in 2020. The well-known business owner was accused of raping a woman in the spring of 2014, but Brewster County's district attorney’s office recently decided there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case. 

By Mitch Borden 

On Friday, a district court judge dismissed a nearly two and half-year-old sexual assault case against Jeff Leach, the owner of Basecamp Terlingua.

At the urging of the local district attorney’s office, the charge that the Brewster County hotelier raped a woman in 2014 was dropped due to “insufficient evidence,” according to court documents.

This decision comes after Shawna Graves, the woman who accused Leach, released statements to the press where she said she was mistreated by prosecutors and the court.

“I'm coming forward now because I used to have faith in the system and now I don't,” she said in an email to Marfa Public Radio.

The recent push to dismiss the case is a dramatic shift for local prosecutors, as it was the district attorney’s office that originally pursued the case against Leach.

Sandy Wilson served as DA for the district covering Brewster County in 2020 when charges were originally brought against Leach. Later that year, she lost the Republican primary to Ori White, who went on to become district attorney in 2021.

After White’s office took over the Leach case, his staff asked the 394th District Court last month to dismiss the criminal case against Leach.

Multiple individuals have come forward since 2019 to accuse Leach of assault and sexual misconduct. He has fought some of the charges in criminal and civil court, where he sued Katy Milam, one of his accusers after she came forward to law enforcement.

Leach has claimed that Milam’s accusation is defamation and caused him emotional distress. The civil case was initially dismissed but was recently revived due to a technicality by an appellate court.

A few days before the criminal case against Leach was dismissed, Graves released a written statement to the press that she had also submitted to the court. In the letter, she claimed that White never reached out to her about the case and that a prosecutor from his office “exhibited zero faith in my experience and no interest in helping.”

Graves went on to claim the prosecutor said, “No jury would believe me. It was a case of he said-she said; that I had no evidence that the sexual assault occurred.”

The district attorney's office declined to comment on this story.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.