Woman depicted in ‘Sound of Freedom’ sues Tim Ballard, says her portrayal is ‘defamatory and slanderous’

Kely Johana Suarez Moya says she was presented as a child-trafficking “monster” in the movie, but in reality was never involved in any trafficking scheme.

(Alberto E. Tamargo | Sipa USA via AP) Tim Ballard is seen during the premiere of "Sound of Freedom" movie premier on June 23, 2022 in Miami Beach, Fla.

A Colombian woman who was portrayed in the movie “Sound of Freedom” as a child sex trafficker is suing Tim Ballard and the team behind the movie for defamation because, according to her suit, she was never involved in human trafficking.

The plaintiff, Kely Johana Suarez Moya, spent 18 months in prison before being released but has never been convicted of any crime, according to a new lawsuit.

Nonetheless, in “Sound of Freedom,” which grossed a quarter of a billion dollars globally, Moya is depicted as a former beauty queen who kidnapped children under the guise of modeling auditions, piled them in shipping containers and sold them into sex slavery.

The story in the film centers around the depiction of an undercover operation Ballard staged in which he and others, including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, posed as American sex tourists looking for children for sex parties in three Colombian locations.

The suit, filed Friday in 3rd District Court, says Moya never took part in three meetings in which Ballard allegedly tried to convince several individuals to bring minors to a sex party set up as an anti-trafficking sting. Ballard’s group created the demand for the minors, the suit says. Moya was invited, her attorneys wrote, and promised to be paid to attend and potentially have sex with one of the men because, despite being an adult, she needed money and looked young for her age.

According to the suit, Colombian court documents show that none of the people — ages 13 to 30 — who attended the party were sex slaves or trafficked, and some had paid to attend the party after seeing an ad on Facebook.

(Image from court filing) — Kely Johana Suarez Moya, on the left, sued Tim Ballard and the makers of "Sound of Freedom," alleging the movie's depiction of her as a child-sex-trafficking "monster" was defamatory and slanderous because she was never involved in trafficking. She was played by Yessica Borroto, on the right.

Moya attended, unaware of the purported purpose of the party, her attorneys say, and was arrested because she was mistaken for another woman who had attended the planning meetings but was not at the party.

The suit says Ballard built Moya into a beauty-queen-turned-sex-trafficker to create “sizzle” for the story. Promotional material for “Sound of Freedom” claimed that the character in the movie is based on a real person, refers to Moya by name and says she was a former beauty pageant queen who was “nothing short of a monster.”

In reality, the suite states, Moya had competed in a contest to be a neighborhood ambassador for her hometown but did not win.

According to the lawsuit, the depiction of her as a sex trafficker promoted by Ballard in the press and as portrayed in the movie resulted in Moya being reviled, spit on and receiving death threats.

When the movie premiered in Colombia, there were posters with Moya’s image next to the actress playing her in the movie, branding her as “The Queen of Cartagena” and people once again began sending her hate mail and calling her names, the suit states, leaving her fearful to leave her house.

Had the defendants checked the court records, the suit states, they would have known Moya, “despite Ballard’s best efforts otherwise, has never been convicted of a crime” and that she “was not a mover and shaker in Cartagena, that she had no access to children, and that her portrayal in ‘Sound of Freedom’ was defamatory and slanderous.”

The attorneys who filed the suit on Moya’s behalf are also representing numerous women who have filed lawsuits accusing Ballard of sexual abuse and assault and OUR of being complicit in his actions.

The lawsuit names Ballard, producer Angel Studios, director Alejandro Monteverde, and Operation Underground Railroad — the anti-trafficking organization Ballard founded — and others as defendants.

Chad Kolton, a spokesman for Ballard’s defense team, called the new suit “more unfounded allegations against Tim Ballard by the same attorneys for the same reason – hoping for a big payday.”

He provided a video allegedly taken on the operation that appears to show Ballard meeting with Moya and four men, and Moyas appears to acknowledge the conversation is about sex work.

Kolton also noted that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement issued a news release after the operation that said 55 child sex trafficking victims, the youngest age 11, were rescued in the operations by ICE and Colombian authorities.

A spokesperson for OUR called it “a new low for the plaintiffs’ attorneys.”

The plaintiff’s attorneys were aware, OUR’s spokesperson said, that OUR was not involved in production of the movie, did not have approval rights of the script, and did not have any financial stake in the film. “In fact, OUR was not mentioned or referred to once in the film,” the statement said.

OUR goes on to call the lawsuit “baseless” and “another example of the plaintiffs’ lawyers abusing the litigation process and wasting judicial resources for their personal gain.”

A spokesperson for Angel Studios did not immediately comment on the new case.

Ballard launches ‘Unfounded’ series

On Thursday, Ballard’s legal team debuted what is said to be the first in a series of videos where Ballard and his wife, Katherine, seek to offer their perspective on the allegations that have been made against him.

The first installment also includes a solicitation for donations to Ballard’s legal defense fund.

In the episode, Ballard says that the women accusing him of sexual misconduct and assault are taking out of context things he said to them when he was undercover and “in character.” The episode referenced statements purportedly made by some of the accusers before the lawsuits were filed that their interactions with Ballard were professional and no lines were crossed.

The video suggests the lawsuits were timed to coincide with the success of “Sound of Freedom” and Ballard’s exploration of a possible U.S. Senate bid.

“This whole thing breaks my heart. I’m watching these women, these accusers, they were my friends, saying we didn’t rescue any kids. They were there. We did take down traffickers, we did rescue kids,” Ballard says in the video.

“I still hold them as heroes but I can’t stand by and let them attack this cause and lie about real-life operations where real kids’ lives are at stake and my family is at stake,” Ballard says.

The producer of the series, Troy Ables, had previously interviewed psychic Janet Russon — who allegedly provided intelligence for Ballard’s rescue missions — on his “Last Dispensation” podcast, which had also done episodes on secret societies, satanic ritual abuse and globalism.