Five women file lawsuit against Tim Ballard, alleging sexual misconduct, misusing funds
Oct 9, 2023, 7:16 PM | Updated: 7:40 pm
(Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for Angel Studios)
SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple women filed a lawsuit against Tim Ballard, the former director of Operation Underground Railroad for sexual misconduct and misusing funding from donors.
The lawsuit alleges Ballard misused OUR funds for his own personal gain and that he used his connection with politicians for cover and exploited the names of church leaders and other prominent figures to gain credibility.
In addition to naming Ballard as a defendant, it also lists organizations that have been associated with Ballard and individual members of OUR’s board of directors.
Primarily, the lawsuit focuses on claims that Ballard abused the Couples Ruse – an undercover tactic he’s publicly admitted to using called the Couples Ruse.
The lawsuit explains one of the undercover tools Ballard would use in sting rescue operations, called a “couple’s ruse,” in which a woman would accompany Ballard pretending to be his wife or girlfriend.
Ballard would allegedly pose as a sexual predator to a trafficker in order to rescue children. The tactic was used as a safeguard against sexual contact with victims, to claim any requested unlawful activity would upset his girlfriend.
However, the lawsuit alleges Ballard used the couple’s ruse tactic as an excuse to engage in sexual misconduct with multiple women while on operations for Operation Underground Railroad and before trips.
The lawsuit states that while on operation missions, Ballard would tell the women it was necessary to continue the ruse even while at private accommodations because traffickers could be surveilling them at any moment.
Using that reasoning, it was claimed Ballard would share a bed with the woman posing as his girlfriend even though the accommodations were always at designated “safe houses” which provided separate bedrooms and bathrooms.
The women claim Ballard made them participate in things to have “real chemistry” because Ballard told women traffickers would be able to determine easily if they were actually involved or not.
The lawsuit alleges that Ballard encouraged the women he was involved with to participate in tantric massages, or erotic massages, as a means of creating chemistry between them.
He frequently asked women to practice their couples ruse long before a mission ever took place.
The lawsuit stated, “To that end, Ballard flew women across the country, where they would “practice” their sexual chemistry,” through a number of different sexual activities.
The women claim Ballard frequented strip clubs in the Salt Lake Valley with women to practice and that at these strip clubs, Ballard would pay for the evening on OUR’s dime, using donor money.
The lawsuit states, “Ballard would ask each woman, ‘Is there anything you wouldn’t do to save a child?’”
The women said Ballard would “badmouth” previous partners that joined him on OUR missions, claiming the were crazy and had “fallen in love with him along the way.”
Often other OUR employees would warn women involved in couple’s ruses not to question Ballard because their lives could be put in danger.
“Ballard repeatedly warned women that if they failed in their couples ruse mission, they would have wasted the hard-earned money that honest donors had entrusted to OUR or be caught and killed by the cartel,” the lawsuit alleges.
Ballard would claim to the women on operations with him that if his wife were to die, he would immediately marry them.
The women said Ballard, who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would also cite scripture to the women, using a passage of scripture where a prophet is told by the Holy Spirit to kill a man, claiming that sometimes the Holy Spirit would ask people to perform “unconventional” tasks.
The lawsuit alleges that Ballard believed he could “talk to the dead prophet Nephi and issue forth prophecies about Ballard’s greatness and future as a United State Senator, President of the United States, and ultimately the Mormon Prophet, to usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
The women said Ballard would tell them they had been married in a previous life, so their conduct was appropriate.
The lawsuit explains Ballard gave the women burner phones to use and messaged them on Signal, a messaging app that keeps communication private, and demanded the women to erase all digital traces of their conversations each night.
“Ballard also threatened the women that he was tracking them with their burner phones and company phones he provided,” the lawsuit states.
The women claim they had to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements before operation missions, claiming it was part of protecting children and participants.
The lawsuit alleges at least two marriages have broken up as a result of Ballard’s actions.
According to the lawsuit, the following events occurred in Spring of 2023:
- women employed by OUR involved in couple’s ruse operations came forward to OUR management
- OUR had its law firm conduct an “external” investigation, which verified the victims claims
- OUR terminated Ballard
- OUR’s board of directors opposed the firing and a joint plan was created where Ballard would “resign” because of a “conflict of interest with the release of Sound of Freedom, in which he has a financial interest in.” As part of this plan, everyone was required to sign a NDA.
- Ballard resigned and began the SPEAR Fund where he continues to raise money to fight human trafficking
KSL TV has reached out to OUR and Ballard for comment.
KSL TV first confirmed more than five women have accused Ballard of sexual misconduct through an attorney, Suzette Rasmussen, who spoke in a press conference on Sept. 27. The allegations first surfaced when a report from Vice News detailed Ballard’s departure from OUR after an investigation into claims against him.
Ballard has previously said accusations of sexual misconduct are baseless. KSL TV reached out to SPEAR Fund, a separate nonprofit where Ballard has served as a senior advisor since leaving OUR, for comment and did not get an immediate response.