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Tim Ballard Sued for Sexual Assault

The Operation Underground Railroad leader resigned before ‘Sound of Freedom’ made him famous

Five women are suing Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) founder Tim Ballard, accusing him of sexual assault and claiming he used psychological and spiritual manipulation to coerce them into sexual contact.

Ballard, the hero portrayed in the hit movie “Sound of Freedom,” resigned from his anti-sex-trafficking nonprofit in June shortly before the movie debuted, which raked in more than $200 million at the box office. MinistryWatch reported on Ballard’s sudden and mysterious departure in July. He then went on to start The SPEAR Fund, also aimed at ending human trafficking.

The women, who filed their lawsuit Monday, were former OUR workers, many of them fellow Mormons. The suit also names OUR and The SPEAR Fund as defendants, claiming leaders knew of the abuse but declined to discipline their organization’s iconic star and chief fundraiser.

The news was reported by TV station KSL, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Both Ballard and OUR have denied the current allegations.

The suit claims Ballard promoted a technique called the “couples ruse” that called for women who worked for OUR to pretend they were married to him in order to ensnare traffickers. In some cases, he flew workers to be with him so they could develop the “sexual chemistry” necessary to pull off the ruse.

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“Is there anything you wouldn’t do to save a child?” Ballard allegedly asked the women as he convinced them to engage in sex play that he claimed would help them catch traffickers while improving their marriages. He told the women to keep the work secret from their husbands. Reportedly, two of the women have since divorced.

Ballard, a Mormon himself, allegedly claimed his unusual tactics were endorsed by both the Book of Mormon and the Mormon church’s current president. These antics drew a rebuke from the church, which also reportedly withdrew his membership.

Ballard also claimed to speak with Mormon prophet Nephi, who allegedly prophesied that he would be elected as a U.S. senator, then U.S. president before ushering in the second coming of Christ. Ballard has said he will run for Mitt Romney’s senate seat in November 2024.

Employees of OUR had complained for years about Ballard’s sexual acts, overhyped claims of rescued sex trafficking victims, and dramatic videos of rescues that over-glamorized the group’s work.

The lawsuit claims OUR leadership conducted an internal investigation that confirmed much of Ballard’s misbehavior but then declined to discipline him and arranged for him to quietly resign.

In an Instagram post, Ballard defended the “couples ruse.” He said, “The couples ruse is a tactic we use in our undercover efforts to proactively rescue children- nothing more, and nothing less.”

Main photo: Photo via Facebook

Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.