Tim Ballard lawsuit: New court documents discuss LDS faith, U.S. Senate bid

The former anti-trafficking celebrity is asking a judge to rule in his favor, dismiss one of the lawsuits against him and for the plaintiff to pay his attorney fees.

(Sarah Silbiger | The New York Times) Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, talks during a meeting about human trafficking on the southern border of the U.S., in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019. In a new court filing, he denies abuse claims made by his former executive assistant.

Attorneys for Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad and the inspiration for the central character in the movie “Sound of Freedom,” asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by his former executive assistant who alleges Ballard sexually assaulted her.

In the new court filing, Ballard’s lawyers deny many of the allegations made by the plaintiff, Celeste Borys, while Ballard denies that he ever assaulted her.

Here are four issues raised in the new filing from Ballard’s legal team:

1. Ballard calls the lawsuit an attempt to ‘extort money.’

Attorneys argue that the lawsuit against Ballard is “an attempted shakedown by a woman who admits that she was in love with Mr. Ballard and who was already in an admittedly unhappy marriage.” His filing asserts that Borys consented to the alleged conduct.

According to the filing, the women accusing Ballard “have not provided actual evidence” and have “been vicious and unkind in their treatment of Mr. Ballard in an effort to extort money from [him].”

The filing included a text message sent to a colleague in July 2023 in which Borys says “I’m love [sic] with my boss who is married, most popular guy in the world. How did that happen??” It also included an email sent in September, after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a rare and strongly worded rebuke of Ballard’s conduct, in which Borys said she “felt safe” and that she had “never been taken advantage of.”

In a recent news conference, Borys said that “having Ballard in prison does not financially benefit me, it only benefits the future victims of his sexual violence.” Borys also said that Ballard had manipulated her into defending him.

In addition to Borys’ civil suit, she has filed criminal complaints in Utah County and four jurisdictions in California. In another recent filing, Borys’ attorneys say she was assaulted in numerous other cities in the United States and abroad.

2. Ballard claims another woman “pursued an inappropriate relationship with him.”

Ballard asserts that one of the women who, according to court filings, went to Operation Underground Railroad officials to complain about his conduct, “misinterpreted” the so-called couples ruse — in which OUR operators would pose as couples while on supposed rescue missions.

The woman, according to Ballard’s filing, “had developed inappropriate feelings for Mr. Ballard, and pursued an inappropriate relationship with him. … At some point the police were called to prevent her from harassing him and his wife.”

A court filing by Borys last week included numerous pages of flirtatious and sexually suggestive text messages between Ballard and the unidentified woman in question.

Ballard’s attorneys say the text messages have been “distorted and taken out of context, in an effort to convict Mr. Ballard in the press, taint the jury pool, and ruin his good name.”

3. Ballard declines to address his status in the LDS Church.

In Borys’ initial lawsuit, her attorneys allege that Ballard has had his membership withdrawn — formerly known as excommunication — by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In his response Tuesday, Ballard refused to respond to the claim.

“Allegations about private religious matters concerning Mr. Ballard and the church he affiliates with are invasive of privacy, irrelevant, and abusive,” the filing stated. “Mr. Ballard is not required to respond to such allegations.”

4. Ballard claims the lawsuit was timed to disrupt his political aspirations.

The timing of the allegations was “orchestrated,” his attorneys allege, to coincide with his potential bid for the U.S. Senate.

In the immediate aftermath of the allegations surfacing and the church’s statement, Ballard recorded a video comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln and saying, “We are highly suspicious about the timing of such a statement, given the close proximity to [Sen.] Mitt Romney’s announcement he is retiring and my own public comments that I am prayerfully considering running for public office.”