Five women file lawsuit against Tim Ballard, accusing the OUR founder of sexual assault


Recent lawsuit alleges sexual assault claims against Tim Ballard

(Photo by Elliot Miller)

Well-known Utah anti-sex trafficking activist Tim Ballard, whose notoriety brought him to BYU multiple times to speak to athletic teams, is facing a sexual assault lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City this week. 

The plaintiffs allege that Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) founder Ballard sexually assaulted and manipulated them on operations (OPS) that ostensibly aimed to rescue women and children from sex trafficking. 

The five women are unnamed in the lawsuit, using pseudonyms to ensure safety from the general public and defendants. They will do so until a “proper protective order” is established, according to the filing. Each of their individual statements were included in the lawsuit, explaining in detail their allegations and alleged history with Ballard. 

The lawsuit describes the use of a “couples ruse” – a covert tactic where female operatives posed as Ballard’s partner during a mission. According to the lawsuit, Ballard claims that the “couples ruse” was implemented as a strategy to avoid detection by pedophiles when Ballard “would not engage in sexual touching of the trafficked women offered up to him in strip clubs and massage parlors across the world.”

While he initially implemented protocols against sexual contact during the ruse, the plaintiffs contend that he ultimately exploited this tactic for sexual grooming.

The lawsuit claims that Ballard was deeply concerned with the “believability” of the ruse and he frequently asked women to “practice long before a mission ever took place.” According to the plaintiffs, Ballard flew women across the country to “practice” their sexual chemistry, where they would participate in tantric yoga, couples massages with escorts, and lap dances.

Ballard would coerce women into engaging in sexual contact with him in the name of maintaining their front as a couple, according to the complaint. The women alleged that resisting Ballard’s advances led to manipulative accusations, with him insinuating they jeopardized their safety and squandered mission donations.

“Ballard would insist that the women stay silent about their alleged sexual encounters with him because if they told anyone, it would put everyone’s lives at risk on the OPS mission, (and) it was necessary to save the trafficked children…,” reads the lawsuit. Ballard allegedly told the women that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had blessed him to succeed in his efforts and become a political and Church leader himself.

The lawsuit alleges that Ballard used spiritual manipulation to coerce the plaintiffs to engage in sexual contact, as many of the victims were Latter-day Saints. The complaint claims that Ballard justified his actions using a verse from the Book of Mormon, “in which a man kills another man on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, demonstrates that … sometimes the Holy Spirit asks people to perform ‘unconventional’ tasks.” 

The plaintiffs claim Ballard would receive ketamine treatments and “have a scribe come in with him while he would talk to the dead prophet Nephi and issue forth prophecies about Ballard’s greatness and future as a United States Senator, President of the United States, and ultimately the Mormon Prophet, to usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement last month emphasizing that the Church had never “endorsed, supported, or represented OUR, Tim Ballard or any projects associated with them.” According to the lawsuit, the Church rescinded Ballard’s membership prior to the legal proceedings following the discovery of the “couples ruse” and how Ballard used it. 

Corporations and companies associated or previously associated with Tim Ballard are listed alongside him as defendants. As per the lawsuit, OUR facilitated the mistreatment of the plaintiffs by adopting the “couples ruse” as “standard policy” and granting Ballard substantial autonomy on its execution. 

The plaintiffs claim that despite previous external investigations verifying their claims of sexual misconduct, OUR’s board of directors, many of whom had personal ties to Ballard, chose not to terminate him. 

The lawsuit goes on to allege that a “joint plan was hatched between OUR and Ballard” where he would resign due to an apparent conflict of interest with the Sound of Freedom, which he had financial interest in. The plaintiffs claim that Ballard would “take a very lucrative Severance agreement and remain the face of OUR so it could continue to raise money.” Ballard then started the SPEAR fund, where he is able to “continue raising money from well-intentioned people wanting to end human trafficking,” claims the lawsuit.

According to several Utah news media outlets this week, Ballard released a statement denying the allegations and expressing confidence that he would be vindicated in court.

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