A second lawsuit was filed Wednesday against embattled anti-child-trafficking advocate Tim Ballard, this time by a woman who said Ballard assaulted her while she was working with him, had her husband threatened and left her marriage on the rocks.
The new suit, in which her husband also is a plaintiff, comes on the heels of another filed Monday by five women who alleged that Ballard exploited their desire to help rescue child trafficking victims and assaulted them, as well.
The couple who filed Wednesday’s lawsuit are suing for general and economic damages, including lost wages, and are seeking a jury trial. According to the lawsuit, they’re also asking for “punitive damages against all defendants in an amount sufficient to punish them and to deter them and others in similar situations from engaging in such conduct in the future.”
Suzette Rasmussen, an attorney for the now seven plaintiffs, said she expects that one or more of the accusers will come forward, but the impacts it might have on their families makes it difficult.
“This is a very sensitive, private matter for the individuals,” she said during a news conference on Wednesday. “They’re having to deal with a lot of painful trauma, emotionally and physically, so for them to come forward and share their stories is very painful.
Rasmussen said she anticipates filing additional lawsuits on behalf of other alleged victims who have already contacted the lawyers.
The new plaintiffs, repeating an allegation made in the first lawsuit, say Ballard exploited the “couples ruse,” in which operatives would pose as a couple while working undercover to try to uncover sex trafficking rings.
On Wednesday, an attorney for The SPEAR Fund — where Ballard is now a senior advisor — said in a statement that Ballard denied the allegations made by the five women in the initial suit.
“Mr. Ballard vehemently denies the allegations brought by these unnamed women,” the statement reads. “He looks forward to vindicating his name in the courts where evidence, and not unsubstantiated accusations in the media, decides the outcome.”
The statement was released before the second suit was filed.
The woman making the new claims against Ballard says she acted as a scribe when Ballard would receive ketamine treatments and make prophecies about how he would become a U.S. senator, president of the United States and ultimately the prophet of the church, “ushering in the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
The suit says the woman was engaged when Ballard asked her to join operations and she eventually followed him to Ballard’s new organization, The SPEAR Fund, after he left OUR in June. Ballard left OUR following an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. She alleges he promised to double the salary she made working at OUR, but, according to the lawsuit, he did not pay her.
As part of her supposed training and on operations, the suit alleges, Ballard convinced the woman to simulate sex with him while both were clothed, hired escorts to come to his room, hired masseuses who he encouraged to touch her sexually and convinced her to post her own photos on an escort site, supposedly to gather intelligence.
She says her time with Ballard created a strain on her marriage and she and her husband are separated, per the lawsuit.
Ballard said he would “put a bullet in his brain” if she left him, according to the suit, and one of Ballard’s associates made a phone call threatening to ruin the husband’s career, allegedly on Ballard’s behalf. The suit says the plaintiffs reported the threat to police.
Wednesday’s lawsuit also alleges that Ballard would use OUR funds to drink tequila to the point he would pass out.
Alan Mortensen, an attorney representing the plaintiffs suing Ballard, said the support Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes gave to Ballard and OUR provided a sense of legitimacy to the organization.
Reyes participated in a rescue mission to Columbia, appeared at numerous OUR fundraising events and listed himself as an associate producer on the movie “Sound of Freedom,” which is a fictionalized version of Ballard’s story.
”I think someone should investigate the attorney general for fraud,” Mortensen said.
”Sean Reyes propped up Tim Ballard and made him the world’s leading expert on child trafficking, so his involvement was basically giving [Ballard] a veneer he did not deserve,” Mortensen said. “It lent to him a lot of credibility. An attorney general is charged with protecting the consumer from being taken advantage of … so when the attorney general is out leading the charge for a nonprofit, it makes the public think this is a safe organization I can donate to.”
Mike Green, another attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was one of those individuals who had been convinced to give money to OUR.
Reyes’ office on Wednesday issued a lengthy statement saying he “has no knowledge of how or if his name or title may have been used to add credibility to the misconduct alleged in the complaint.”
”If the allegations are true, and had he [Reyes] known of such alleged behavior, he would not have allowed use of his name and would have strongly condemned such actions,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Reyes said the allegations should be taken seriously, but he hopes they do not detract from the need to stop child trafficking.
In a second statement from The SPEAR Fund on Wednesday, Ballard and his wife, Katherine, downplayed the involvement of the five women listed anonymously as plaintiffs in Monday’s lawsuit, saying three of them didn’t participate in any operations because they didn’t make it through OUR training.
The Ballards insinuate the accusations are coming from powerful cartels trying to perpetrate child trafficking.
“Rescuing kids and exposing those behind the powerful, well-funded child trafficking cartels is an ugly and dark business and leaves unintended consequences, which we all are finding out,” the statement said. “Who would have thought we would now be fighting amongst ourselves while these evils are rapidly escalating all around us?”
It continues: “It’s evident that those who are behind these cartels have clearly woken up to the light that is being shed on their dark activities. We had no idea how much influence they had with so many powerful people and organizations in the United States.