OUR’s CEO Compelled Out Over Sexual Misconduct Claims – Rolling Stone

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By Calvin S. Nelson

Tim Ballard, whose purported rescues of sex-trafficking victims have been fictionalized within the hit summer time film Sound of Freedom, earlier this yr left the advocacy group he based after an inside investigation of sexual misconduct claims, sources acquainted with the group have confirmed. Ballard didn’t return a request for touch upon the allegations.

In keeping with Vice Information, which corroborated reporting from Utah journalist Lynn Packer, Ballard stepped down as CEO of the anti-trafficking nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad amid complaints from seven girls who stated he made inappropriate advances in the middle of missions overseas. His accusers — who’ve remained nameless for worry of retaliation — alleged that Ballard would have completely different girls pose as his spouse throughout these journeys, a pretext he used to counsel sharing a mattress or showering collectively to take care of cowl. The complaints detailed incidents wherein Ballard allegedly despatched a photograph of himself in his underwear to at least one feminine OUR worker, and requested one other how far she was prepared to go to avoid wasting youngsters. As but, none of Ballard’s accusers have spoken to the media.

The character of the complaints first emerged in an nameless letter despatched to OUR workers and donors this summer time concerning the circumstances of Ballard’s quiet departure. (OUR has since dodged questions round why Ballard resigned proper earlier than the discharge of the hagiographic Sound of Freedom.) The letter claimed {that a} sexual harassment criticism towards Ballard from an OUR worker who accompanied him on an undercover operation led to an “in depth inside investigation” into Ballard’s “operational ways,” which led to extra girls coming ahead towards him.

“It was in the end revealed by disturbingly particular and parallel accounts,” the letter continued, “that Tim has been deceitfully and extensively grooming and manipulating a number of girls for the previous few years with the final word intent of coercing them to take part in sexual acts with him, underneath the premise of going the place it takes and doing ‘no matter it takes’ to avoid wasting a toddler.”

“Tim Ballard resigned from OUR on June 22, 2023,” the group stated in a press release shared with Rolling Stone. “OUR is devoted to combatting sexual abuse, and doesn’t tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination by anybody in its group.” The group additional famous that it had “retained an unbiased legislation agency to conduct a complete investigation of all related allegations,” and “continues to evaluate and enhance the governance of the group and protocols for its operations.” Citing the necessity to “protect the integrity of its investigation and to guard the privateness of all individuals concerned,” OUR declined to supply further remark.  

Ballard, who additionally vacated his place as CEO of the Glenn Beck-backed anti-trafficking group Nazerne Fund this summer time, stays senior advisor to the SPEAR Fund, a brand new group with an identical mission. SPEAR didn’t return a request for remark as as to if the sexual misconduct allegations would have an effect on his function there.

In the meantime, Ballard lately confronted a uncommon and sudden condemnation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for purportedly misrepresenting a robust church elder’s involvement OUR’s work and his private enterprise dealings. In a fiery assertion, a church spokesperson additionally alluded to Ballard’s “morally unacceptable” actions with out specifying what they have been. Ballard, who’s Mormon, bizarrely denied that the church had issued the assertion whereas chatting with supporters in Boston. “I don’t imagine the church did this,” he protested whereas claiming that media protection about him is unfaithful. “That is breaking down my household like you may’t imagine.” Ballard’s efforts to regulate or downplay unfavorable headlines come as he’s reportedly contemplating a run for Senate. He could be campaigning to interchange Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has stated he wouldn’t search reelection in 2024.

For years, each Ballard and OUR have distorted and exaggerated their work on behalf of trafficking victims, with different anti-trafficking teams routinely criticizing their strategies. However a self-promotional type and descriptions of daring raids made Ballard and his group darlings of the political proper, together with Donald Trump.

The religiously themed Sound of Freedom, distributed by Angel Studios (like OUR, it’s primarily based in Utah and has important ties to the Church of LDS) solely cemented Ballard’s mythic heroism on that facet of America’s partisan divide, and provided solidarity with the acute conspiracist fringe: QAnon promoter Jim Caviezel, who starred as Ballard, used the press tour for the movie to hawk outrageous false claims of elites abducting youngsters to reap for the chemical compound adrenochrome.

It stays to be seen whether or not followers of the film, a lot of whom imagine it precisely depicts Ballard’s exploits in bringing down pedophile trafficking rings, will change their opinion of its real-life topic primarily based on the scandals which have dogged him since its launch. Any probability for a sequel, nevertheless, has definitely diminished.


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