Lawsuit accuses AG Sean Reyes of intimidating critic of Tim Ballard, OUR
Nov 27, 2023, 6:33 PM
(Ryan Sun, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — A lawsuit filed against Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes on Monday alleges he engaged in witness tampering and intimidated a critic of Operation Underground Railroad and its founder Tim Ballard when she brought complaints against the anti-sex trafficking organization.
The lawsuit, filed in 3rd District Court, is the fourth complaint against Ballard in recent months and the first time Reyes — a longtime friend and supporter of Ballard — is named as a defendant. An amended court filing in a previous case made similar allegations of witness tampering against Reyes, though he was not a target of that suit.
Reyes denied those allegations. His spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Monday’s lawsuit.
The plaintiff in the latest suit, Suzanne Whitehead, was the director of a global nonprofit organization in 2015 when an earthquake struck Nepal. Whitehead said she began working to send a crisis team to help recovery efforts there and accepted an invitation to travel with members of Operation Underground Railroad to identify places to house rescued girls.
Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, was present on the mission on behalf of Operation Underground Railroad, according to the lawsuit, though Whitehead and Smart eventually split from the rest of the group to continue their efforts separately.
After the trip, Operation Underground Railroad sent out a newsletter from the trip, which the lawsuit says “incorrectly claimed that the OUR group had been working with trafficking victims, which did not happen at any time during the trip.”