This is a developing story. ABC4 will update this post with more information as it becomes available.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Police records filed this month show that investigators are looking into a woman’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by Tim Ballard, marking the first such criminal investigation into the embattled founder of Operation Underground Railroad.
Ballard is also at the center of two civil lawsuits, in which former OUR employees allege Ballard sexually abused them under the guise of fighting human trafficking.
The latest sexual assault report was filed Nov. 1 in Lindon, documents ABC4 obtained through a records request show. A woman, whom ABC4 is choosing not to name, filed the complaint, and Tim Ballard was listed as the suspect.
Few other details were listed in the police documents, but they say the woman was slated to meet with a detective to discuss the case on Nov. 2, as she “would feel better speaking to an officer face to face.”
ABC4 reached out to Lindon police for more information, but the station did not immediately hear back. Lindon is located roughly 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Attorney Suzette Rasmussen, who was listed as the woman’s contact, confirmed to ABC4 that she is representing the woman. However, Rasmussen said that she couldn’t give any additional details on the case as it remains under investigation.
Rasmussen is also representing the seven people involved in the two civil lawsuits. The names of those people remain anonymous, and it’s unclear if the woman in the Lindon report is part of the earlier cases.
Ken Krogue, the president of SPEAR Fund, the nonprofit Ballard began working with after leaving OUR, issued a statement Thursday saying Ballard has not been informed of any complaints made to law enforcement, nor has been contacted by police.
“The fact that a purported criminal complaint has been leaked to the media is even further evidence of the true intent behind this charade,” the statement said. “It is designed to stir up a media frenzy, to harm the reputation of Mr. Ballard, and to impede his and others’ efforts to fight the sex trafficking industry.”
Over the summer, Ballard became an anti-sex trafficking celebrity after the independent film “Sound of Freedom” was a surprise hit, amassing more than $217 million at the box office.
The film depicts OUR’s undercover sting operations to free the child victims of sex trafficking in other countries. Ballard is the film’s central character, played by Jim Caviezel.
In the wake of the film’s success, allegations surfaced that Ballard sexually abused colleagues during OUR operations. These led to him leaving the organization he founded.
He was also rebuked by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he is a member, for his “morally unacceptable” behavior. The church did not make clear what behavior it was referring to.
In October, five women filed the first civil lawsuit against Ballard, saying he manipulated and abused them. Key to their claims was the concept of the “couples ruse,” a tool Ballard would employ to deceive sex traffickers in undercover operations.
The women claim Ballard would use the couples ruse to coerce them to engage in sexual activity, the lawsuit states.
Similar allegations were made in the second civil lawsuit, which was filed just days after the first. In that case, a married couple claims that Ballard’s manipulative practices damaged or destroyed marriages.
Ballard has repeatedly disputed the abuse allegations, calling them “baseless.”