Update: Tim Ballard has responded to Vice’s report on his alleged sexual misconduct. In a statement released Monday evening to IndieWire by his new organization The Spear Fund, Ballard did not name Vice, but affirmed his commitment to anti-sex trafficking efforts and criticized what he called “a tabloid that is often hostile to people of faith.”
“Evil pedophiles will stop at nothing, and they have allies in government, in the media, in big corporations, and even in public institutions. They continue to lie and attempt to destroy my good name and defame my character…and they will never stop,” Ballard said in his statement.
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Ballard also questioned the authenticity of a statement published by Vice from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesperson, alleging that the church has not verified the statement as real and calling the timing of the news after Mitt Romney’s retirement announcement “highly suspicious.”
“In any event, nothing will change my core beliefs,” Ballard said in his statement. “If someone within the church did release this statement, I am absolutely confident that the right people will step in and ensure that proper due process is followed as the rules of our church dictate.”
Original story follows:
“Sound of Freedom” is one of the most unexpected box-office hits of the year, grossing over $200 million in its theatrical run. But the film, which dramatizes the story of Tim Ballard and his anti-sex trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad, has also faced numerous controversies, including a backer charged with child kidnapping, accusations of inaccuracies and sensationalism, and rumored Qanon ties.
Now, the film’s hero faces a massive controversy of his own. Ballard, who founded O.U.R. in 2013, left the organization in July. A new report from Vice, published Monday, reveals that Ballard’s departure from his nonprofit allegedly came after an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct involving several women at the organization.
According to the Vice report, Ballard — who has faced numerous accusations of exaggerating and falsifying the company’s work — would allegedly invite women to pose as his wife on overseas missions ostensibly intended to rescue trafficking victims. During these missions, he would allegedly coerce the women into sharing a bed or showering with him in order to “fool traffickers.” He also allegedly sent a photo of himself in his underwear to at least one woman he brought on these trips, and asked another “how far she was willing to go” for their assignment.
At least seven employees were among those who alleged to have experienced sexual coercion and harassment from Ballard, but Vice notes that it’s also believed that female contractors and O.U.R. volunteers experienced similar treatment.
In a statement to Vice, O.U.R. wrote that “Tim Ballard resigned from O.U.R. on June 22, 2023. He has permanently separated from O.U.R. O.U.R. is dedicated to combatting sexual abuse, and does not tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination by anyone in its organization.”
In July, Vice also reported that donors for anti-sex trafficking causes received an anonymous letter accusing Ballard of sexual harassment. The letter also alleged that O.U.R.‘s board and lawyers made agreements to prevent executives from discussing the circumstances around Ballard’s exit from the company.
Ballard did not respond to Vice’s request to comment. According to the report, he is allegedly trying to find a way back to the organization following the scandal. Ballard also made headlines recently when several outlets reported he was considering a run for Senate, to fill the seat vacated by Mitt Romney.
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