CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes responds to latest Ballard lawsuit

Oct 11, 2023, 7:17 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2023, 9:15 am

Image of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes discusses details of a lawsuit filed against TikTok as he...

FILE: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes discusses details of a lawsuit filed against TikTok as he joins Gov. Spencer Cox at a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. More than a dozen lawmakers at Utah's Capitol have signed a letter asking for an audit of both the Utah Attorney General's office, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. Lawmakers are specifically asking for auditors to look into Reyes' relationship with Operation Underground Railroad Founder Tim Ballard. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office is responding to the appearance of AG Sean Reyes’ name in a new lawsuit filed this week against anti-human trafficking activist Tim Ballard.

Read more: The “couples ruse” revisited: New accusations against Tim Ballard

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Salt Lake City names Ballard, Operation Underground Railroad, and board members, among others. It references the attorney general by name starting on page 6 and 7 of the complaint.

Reyes has repeatedly endorsed Ballard in the past, including in his bid for Senate, “giving Ballard the cover of the top law enforcement officer in the State of Utah to carry out his purposes, including the COUPLES RUSE, even while consumer complaints and investigations were pouring into his office regarding the improprieties of OUR and Ballard,” the complaint alleges.

Response to appearance of Reyes’ name in lawsuit against Ballard 

In a statement, the office says Reyes does not know how his name or title may have been used to add credibility to any misconduct, and he would not have allowed it.

“If the allegations are true, and had he known of such alleged behavior, he would not have allowed use of his name and would have strongly condemned such actions,” the statement reads.

The statement goes on to directly contradict the claim from the lawsuit of complaints “pouring into” Reyes’ office.

“The UAGO strongly disputes the characterization in the Complaint that ‘consumer complaints and criminal investigations were pouring into his (the AG’s) office regarding the improprieties of OUR and Ballard,’” it reads. “None of the senior leadership in the UAGO could recall a single request for investigation, consumer complaint, or any substantive complaint at all until the Vice story broke in September.”

The statement reiterates previous comments from Reyes, that his only observations of Ballard and operations with OUR were above board. In addition, the statement says the first time Reyes had ever heard of the so-called couples ruse was this fall, in reporting from VICE.

“To be clear, he was aware that on operations there were sometimes operators posing as couples and that arrangement, itself, was a deception or ruse, but he never had any direct or indirect knowledge of the sexual actions alleged in the Complaint,” the statement says.

Related: Five women file lawsuit against Tim Ballard, alleging sexual misconduct, misusing funds

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Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes responds to latest Ballard lawsuit