‘These allegations are true,’ say former OUR employees about Tim Ballard
Sep 28, 2023, 11:31 AM | Updated: 2:25 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — An attorney representing “several” women spoke out Thursday, saying those women were victims of sexual misconduct by the founder and former CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, Tim Ballard.
Suzette Rasmussen has clarified to KSL News that she’s representing more than five women, however they expect more to come forward.
Rasmussen also clarified details in a report first made public by Vice News, that Ballard would allegedly coerce women into sharing a bed or showering together for a tactic he’s described as, “the couples ruse.” The tactic involved acting as Ballard’s wife or girlfriend. Ballard has said “the couple’s ruse” was necessary to fool child sex traffickers, Rasmussen said the women feel that Ballard “crossed the line.”
“We now stand together to affirm the truth behind these allegations,” said Rasmussen reading a statement on behalf of the victims.
“Our involvement with Operation Underground Railroad was rooted in our commitment to fighting against human trafficking,” she said. “But while engaging in that noble cause, we were subjected to sexual harassment, spiritual manipulation, grooming, and sexual misconduct.”
Rasmussen read the following statement in full:
Good morning, my name is Suzette Rasmussen and I represent a group of women who wish to speak out regarding the recent allegations related to Tim Ballard, the former CEO of Operation Underground Railroad. I’ve been asked to read a statement on their behalf:
As former employees and contractors who worked closely with Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), we are choosing to give a public statement about our experiences with Tim Ballard.
Earlier this year, complaints were filed that opened the door for an internal investigation. We now stand together to affirm the truth behind these allegations.
Our involvement with Operation Underground Railroad was rooted in our commitment to fighting against human trafficking. But while engaging in that noble cause, we were subjected to sexual harassment, spiritual manipulation, grooming, and sexual misconduct.
#BREAKING: An attorney for women alleging sexual misconduct against who you are founder Tim Ballard has made a statement. She would not reveal how many women she’s representing, ignore any other specifics about their allegations.@kslnewsradio pic.twitter.com/Ym5t4Xj08N
— Lindsay Aerts (@LindsayOnAir) September 28, 2023
Though we value our privacy as we work to rebuild our lives, we also feel a responsibility to speak out and state unequivocally that these allegations are true. We acknowledge the risks involved in challenging someone as prominent as Tim Ballard. We will reveal our stories in our own time and on our own terms, but for now, we choose to remain anonymous.
We wish to express our gratitude for the outpouring of support from those who have responded and commented to the media and social media posts. We also want to extend our support and solidarity to all survivors of harassment and abuse of any kind. We believe you, and we are standing by your side as you embark on your own healing journey.
For anyone else who may wish to come forward, you can reach out to me via email at email@example.com.
Ballard has previously said accusations of sexual misconduct are baseless. KSL TV reached out for comments through the SPEAR Fund, a separate nonprofit where Ballard has served as a senior advisor since leaving OUR, and did not get an immediate response.
Previously, Ballard said: “As with all of the assaults on my character and integrity over many years, the latest tabloid-driven sexual allegations are false. They are baseless inventions designed to destroy me and the movement we have built to end the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children.”
Operation Underground Railroad issued the following statement ahead of the press conference :
Operation Underground Railroad received an allegation of behavior that violated company policy by then CEO Tim Ballard. The organization immediately placed Mr. Ballard on administrative leave and launched an independent, external investigation of the allegation. At the conclusion of the investigation, as previously stated by O.U.R., Mr. Ballard resigned.
Mr. Ballard’s alleged misconduct does not represent O.U.R.’s values or others within the organization.
O.U.R. is dedicated to combatting sexual abuse and stands with anyone who has been victimized.
O.U.R. is sensitive to the privacy concerns of any individuals affected by this and is committed to upholding our duty to protect their anonymity.
O.U.R.’s mission does not change, and we are committed to continuing our domestic and international efforts, in collaboration with law enforcement, to rescue any and all from the scourge of human trafficking.