Women Accuse Tim Ballard of ‘Spiritual Manipulation, Grooming, and Sexual Misconduct’

An attorney representing employees and contractors of Operation Underground Railroad has issued a statement about what they say the “Sound of Freedom” hero did.
Woman at micro
Screenshot via Lindsay Aerts/KSL News on Twitter.

At a press conference Thursday morning on the steps of the Utah state capitol building, Suzette Rasmussen, an attorney in Draper, Utah, announced that she’s representing women who have accused Tim Ballard of sexual misconduct. 

Ballard, who has recently discussed his interest in filling the Senate seat Mitt Romney is vacating, is the founder of the controversial anti-trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad. VICE News recently reported that he left the group this summer following an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. People familiar with the situation told VICE News that Ballard would invite women on undercover missions to play his wife, then coerce them into intimate situations like sharing a bed or showering together, purportedly to fool traffickers. 


During the press conference, Rasmussen read a statement on behalf of the women, which a communications firm working with her provided to VICE News. It reads, in part, “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.” 

Rasmussen told assembled Utah reporters that she couldn’t comment on the exact number of women making allegations, but that VICE News’ reporting that at least seven women were involved was “pretty close to accurate.” She said she could not comment yet on the exact nature of the sexual misconduct, whether the women have gone to the police, and what her next steps as their attorney will be. 

Sources with knowledge of the situation have told VICE News that Ballard is alleged to have invoked his own personal connection to the divine and the authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to persuade women who worked for and with OUR that testing their sexual chemistry with him was in essence approved by God. 

Conservative libertarian personality Eric Moutsos, who says he's spoken to at least four women accusing Ballard of misconduct, has said Ballard invoked both his relationship with President M. Russell Ballard, a powerful figure in the LDS Church, and psychic readings from Janet Russon, OUR’s in-house medium, to back up claims he made to persuade women into sexual situations. Moutsos has also said "multiple marriages have been broken up." His claims are consistent with VICE News reporting. 


Spokespeople for the women and for Ballard did not respond to requests for comment; OUR provided a statement, which is reproduced in full below.

The full statement from Rasmussen, the women’s lawyer, is as follows: 

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. 

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.


Since news of the nature of the allegations first broke, led by Utah journalist Lynn Packer, Ballard has vehemently denied them, and suggested a number of alternative, conspiratorial explanations. In September, Ballard issued a statement through the SPEAR Fund, a new anti-trafficking organization he appears to have founded. (He refers to himself as a senior adviser there and has implied other people are involved.) In it, Ballard referred to the allegations as “baseless,” adding, “During my time at O.U.R., I designed strict guidelines for myself and our operators in the field. Sexual contact was prohibited, and I led by example. Given our meticulous attention to this issue, any suggestion of inappropriate sexual contact is categorically false.”

Ballard also made a lengthy Instagram video defending the use of what he called “the couples ruse”—i.e., male operators like him working intimately with female ones in undercover situations to fool traffickers. His wife, Katherine, also went on the show of a local Utah talk radio host to say she believes and stands by her husband. He also had two female operators provide anonymous testimony on his Instagram, saying that Ballard had never been sexually inappropriate. The first woman was filmed with her face visible, and VICE News was able to identify her and connect her to an anti-trafficking group operating in Ukraine with which Ballard has ties. She has not responded to a request for comment; nor have Ballard or the anti-trafficking group. The video was deleted soon after it was posted. (The second woman spoke with her face blurred to protect her privacy.) 


Ballard has also suggested that his accusers, and the media covering them, have more sinister motivations. In July, when VICE News reported he’d left OUR following an internal investigation, but did not immediately state that it was of a sexual nature, he made an Instagram video saying that “godless leftists” would stop at nothing to keep people from watching Sound of Freedom, the heavily fictionalized film supposedly based on his work. (The film has been a surprise box office hit around the world.) On Wednesday night, he showed a clip of himself fulminating at a microphone in Washington DC, shortly after he testified before Congress early this month.

“Just a few days after I delivered this speech, a flood of false allegations made their way to the front pages of many news outlets across the country,” Ballard wrote. He accompanied that video with a screenshot of a tweet from conservative pundit Charlie Kirk, which listed three mens’ names: Ballard, Elon Musk, and Russell Brand. “All accused of sex issues or fake financial crimes,” Kirk wrote. “If you effectively speak against the Regime, they will crush you.” 

In an appearance this week on comedian Adam Carolla's podcast, accompanied by his wife Katherine, Ballard once again denied sexually inappropriate behavior, claiming that what was at issue was simply tactics used while working undercover. Sources told VICE News that he'd sent photos of himself in his underwear, festooned with fake tattoos, to some of the women. During the show, Ballard displayed a photo depicting himself in boxer briefs covered in henna tattoos (included one of the word joder, the Spanish word for “fuck”) but said the photo was taken by a staffer and sent to operators to be “archived.” 

Ballard in his underwear wearing fake tattoos.

Ballard in his underwear wearing fake tattoos, in an image he provided to comedian and podast host Adam Carolla.

In a statement to VICE News earlier this month, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a stinging rebuke to Ballard, saying he’d leveraged his friendship with a senior apostle in the church, President M. Russell Ballard (no relation) for Ballard’s “personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable.” The Church has not specified what activity it was referring to as morally unacceptable.

OUR issued the following statement:

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.

Rasmussen, the attorney, added during the press conference that if additional women wish to come forward, she can be reached at 

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