Tim Ballard, whose alleged rescues of sex trafficking The victims were fictional in the hit summer movie. sound of freedomEarlier this year he left the advocacy group he founded after an internal investigation by inappropriate sexual conduct claims, sources familiar with the organization have confirmed. Ballard did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

According Vicenewswhich corroborated the Utah journalist’s report lynn packerBallard resigned as executive director of the anti-human trafficking nonprofit. Operation Underground Railroad amid complaints from seven women who said he made inappropriate advances in the course of foreign missions. His accusers, who have remained anonymous for fear of reprisal, alleged that Ballard had different women pose as his wife during these trips, a pretext she used to suggest sharing a bed or showering together to stay covered. The complaints detailed incidents in which Ballard allegedly sent a photo of himself in his underwear to one OUR employee and asked another how far she was willing to go to save children. So far, none of Ballard’s accusers have spoken to the media.

The nature of the complaints first emerged in an anonymous letter sent to OUR staff and donors this summer about the circumstances of Ballard’s silent departure. (OURS has since dodged questions on why Ballard resigned just before the publication of the hagiographic sound of freedom.) The letter claimed that a sexual harassment complaint against Ballard by an OUR employee who accompanied him on a sting operation led to an “extensive internal investigation” into Ballard’s “operational tactics,” which led to more women will come against him.

“Ultimately, it was revealed through disturbingly specific and parallel accounts,” the letter continues, “that Tim has been deceptively and extensively grooming and manipulating several women over the past several years with the ultimate intention of forcing them to participate in sexual acts with him. under the premise of going where necessary and doing ‘whatever it takes’ to save a child.”

“Tim Ballard resigned from OUR on June 22, 2023,” the organization said in a statement shared with Rolling Stone. “OUR is dedicated to combating sexual abuse and does not tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination from anyone in its organization.” The group further noted that it had “engaged an independent law firm to conduct a thorough investigation into all relevant allegations” and “continues to evaluate and improve the organization’s governance and protocols for its operations.” Citing the need to “preserve the integrity of its investigation and protect the privacy of all individuals involved,” OUR declined to offer additional comment.

Ballard, who this summer also vacated his position as executive director of the Glenn Beck-backed anti-trafficking group Nazerne Fund, remains a senior adviser to the SPEAR Fund, a new organization with a similar mission. SPEAR did not respond to a request for comment on whether the sexual misconduct allegations would affect his role there.

Meanwhile, Ballard recently faced a rare and unexpected condemnation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for allegedly misrepresenting a powerful church elder’s involvement in OUR’s work and his personal business dealings. In a fiery statement, a church spokesman also alluded to Ballard’s “morally unacceptable” activities without specifying what they were. Ballard, who is Mormon, strangely denied that the church had issued the statement while speaking to followers in Boston. “I don’t think the church did this,” he protested while claiming that media coverage about him is false. “This is destroying my family like you can’t believe.” Ballard’s efforts to rein in or downplay negative headlines come as he is reportedly considering a run for senate. He would campaign to replace the senator. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has said he would not seek re-election in 2024.

For years, both Ballard and OUR have They distorted and exaggerated their work on behalf of trafficking victims, and other anti-trafficking groups routinely criticize their methods. But a style of self-promotion and descriptions of daring raids made Ballard and his organization favorites of the political right, including donald trump.

The religious theme sound of freedomdistributed by Angel Studios (like OUR, it is based in Utah and has important ties to the LDS Church) only cemented Ballard’s mythic heroism on that side of America’s partisan divide and offered solidarity with the extreme conspiracy wing: QAnon Promoter Jim Caviezel, who played Ballard, used the film’s press tour to peddle false and outrageous claims about elites kidnapping children to harvest the chemical compound. adrenochrome.

It remains to be seen whether fans of the film, many of whom believe it accurately depicts Ballard’s exploits in taking down pedophile trafficking rings, will change their opinion on the real-life issue based on the scandals that have dogged him. since its premiere. However, any chance of a sequel has certainly diminished.