Controversy continues to swarm around media figure Tim Ballard as five of his alleged victims filed a lawsuit against him this week.
The women claim Ballard is guilty of sexual misconduct through an undercover tactic called the “Couples Ruse” alongside the misuse of donor funds for Operation Underground Railroad. The lawsuit also alleges Ballard exploited connections with prominent religious and political leaders for his own personal gain.
Each of the women provided detailed statements about the alleged manipulation and sexual assault. They have chosen to remain anonymous at this time “to protect them from the zealous defenders of Ballard and his organizations.”
Statements from representatives also suggest additional lawsuits from additional victims will be filed in the upcoming month.
The “Couples Ruse” Claim
The heart of the allegations center around the Couples Ruse, where Ballard would invite women to accompany him on sting operations (OPS) and pretend to be romantically involved in order to fool traffickers.
According to the lawsuit, “As part of either an OP or practice for the OP, Ballard would often share a bed with a woman posing as his girlfriend or invite her to shower in his bathroom, even though accommodations at designated ‘safe houses’ provided separate bedrooms and bathrooms.”
Ballard would insist on ensuring physical chemistry before an OP, encouraged female operatives to participate in tantric massages, and would have the women practice for the Couples Ruse before the mission. This allegedly included tantric yoga, couples massages with escorts, lap dances, and visiting strip clubs. The women were also requested by Ballard to have a Brazilian wax.
Ballard warned the women that if they failed in making the Couples Ruse believable, “they would have wasted the hard-earned money that honest donors had entrusted to OUR or be caught or killed by the cartel.”
Ballard told people that President M. Russell Ballard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had “given him permission to do the Couples Ruse as long as there was no sexual intercourse or kissing on the lips, and had given him a special priesthood blessing as such.”
Other claims include using the story of Nephi killing Laban to justify their sexual behavior and telling women he would marry them immediately if his wife died.
The Victim’s Statements
Graphic in nature, the statements from the women detail sexual activity on sting operations, the “tests” they needed to pass in order to be chosen as primary operatives, and the many things Ballard told them so they’d continue on. One woman details how Ballard sexually assaulted her after repeatedly asking him to stop.
All of the women expressed a deep desire to help children and their trust that Ballard knew what he was doing.
One woman said, “[Ballard] made it seem that everything else besides maybe full-on penetrative sex would potentially be expected. During all of this, I felt like everything was a test. Every question or action was proving myself. I had briefly gotten into my personal background with him and explained why helping on operations as an operator was so important to me. Saving women and children truly meant so much to me as a person on a personal level. I wanted to make a difference, I have been a long-time supporter of OUR and knew that’s what I wanted my future to involve.”
The Misuse of Funds
In addition to the Couples Ruse, the lawsuit alleges Ballard used money from O.U.R. for personal leisure.
“While promotional and media materials made the OPS appear to be paramilitary drop-ins to arrest traffickers and rescue children, what most OPS consisted of was going to strip clubs and massage parlors across the world, after flying first class to get there, and staying at 5-star hotels, on boats, and at VRBOs across the globe,” it asserts.
“OUR was making staggering profits as Ballard opened ‘for profit’ companies, defendants, which were alter-egos of OUR and Ballard, and that allowed Ballard to line his pockets with the widow’s mite.”
Connections to the Church of Jesus Christ
The use of President Ballard’s name to justify his actions and gain credibility has resulted in publically condemnation by the Church. The lawsuit paints a picture of extreme beliefs.
“In order to find and save trafficked children, Ballard would receive psychic information from psychic defendant Janet Russon about where the OPS should occur, along with reassurance and justification of everything Ballard did, while predicting the future situations the operatives would be in, so that they could plan the next OP,” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Russon claims that she spoke to a dead prophet named Nephi, who directed her about where to locate the trafficked children.”
The women also state that Ballard told them he was to be the next prophet of the Church, president of the United States and would help usher in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The lawsuit claims that Ballard has been excommunicated by the Church. The exact phrasing used in the filing documents is, “Upon reasonable belief and inquiry, upon learning of the Couples Ruse and how Ballard used it, the Mormon Church excommunicated Ballard.”
Unverified reports by some news organizations claim Ballard can no longer be found on the Gospel Tools app alongside his family.
Ballard’s wife Katherine, however, gave a statement to KSL News that says they are “in touch” with their ecclesiastical leaders, the conversations are “strictly confidential and extremely personal,” and that they are “complying fully.”
The Church’s Public Statement
The verified statement originally given to the press in September 2023 regarding Ballard’s actions can be read below:
President Ballard and Tim Ballard (no relation) established a friendship a number of years ago. That friendship was built on a shared interest in looking after God’s children wherever they are and without regard to their circumstances. However, that relationship is in the past.
For many months, President Ballard has had no contact with the founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). The nature of that relationship was always in support of vulnerable children being abused, trafficked, and otherwise neglected. Once it became clear Tim Ballard had betrayed their friendship, through the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable, President Ballard withdrew his association. President Ballard never authorized his name, or the name of the Church, to be used for Tim’s personal or financial interests.
In addition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never endorsed, supported, or represented OUR, Tim Ballard, or any projects associated with them.
President Ballard loves children, all over the world. It has been his mission and life’s work to look after them, care for them, and point them to their Savior.
Ballard has not responded directly to the lawsuit at this time. However, he has maintained his innocence and says all accusations are baseless since they first surfaced in September.
In an official statement on his for-profit website for The Spear Fund, Ballard said, “As with all of the assaults on my character and integrity over many years, the latest tabloid-driven sexual allegations are false. They are baseless inventions designed to destroy me and the movement we have built to end the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children.”
“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.”