US scuba diver Jared Leisek, founder of the underwater search & recovery team Adventures With Purpose (AWP), has been charged with two counts of rape of a minor, offences allegedly committed as a teenager 30 years ago.
Leisek, 47, of Redmond, Oregon, is accused of abusing a female relative aged 9-10 at two locations in the state of Utah in late 1992. He had been seven years older than the alleged victim, according to documents filed on 3 November at a district court in Sanpete County.
There is no statute of limitations on child-sex offences in Utah. Leisek is not in custody but is set to appear before the court by video link on 30 November.
Leisek’s AWP dive-team came to prominence with what started as underwater clean-ups and “treasure-hunting” but evolved into solving up to 26 cold-cases by finding the remains of missing persons in cars submerged in inland waters. The Adventures With Purpose YouTube Channel, of which Leisek is owner and creative director, now claims 2.8 million subscribers and its Facebook page 1.5 million followers.
A recent high-profile discovery, followed on the channel by some 3.3m viewers, was that of an SUV containing missing teenager Kiely Rodni, in a California lake previously searched by police. Controversy was caused by AWP’s disputed claims that despite the official accidental death verdict the circumstances of Rodni’s death appeared suspicious. Leisek did not take part in that August search operation, which was reported on Divernet.
A self-described “serial entrepreneur”, Leisek started sharing his underwater activities online in 2017, while diving to remove rubbish and finding a variety of lost property at inland sites. From 2019 he collaborated with tow-truck operator Doug Bishop in retrieving sunken cars, leading Bishop to join AWP and become its other most familiar face as lead investigator and diver.
AWP claimed that almost all its discoveries of human remains were made in areas that had already been searched by law agencies, thanks to the sonar-scanning equipment it used prior to diving. The team provide their services to families of missing persons for free, but have supported their efforts through membership fees, equipment sponsorships, merchandise sales and on some occasions reward money.
The future of AWP appeared to be in doubt following emergence of the criminal charges against its founder. “What happened 30 years ago has come to light and it‘s been affecting everybody involved with this,” stated Bishop in a video posted on 9 November.
“There are contracts in place, there are legal ramifications… I’ve always followed the code and that code has been violated… None of us knew any of this and I’m just as shocked as anybody else. It’s really unfortunate and heartbreaking.“
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