Judge dismisses Tim Ballard’s wife as a defendant in sexual assault lawsuits

The lawsuits alleged that Katherine Ballard was covering for her husband. A Utah judge ruled her statements defending her husband were protected speech.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Women who are accusing Tim Ballard of sexual misconduct speak at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. From left are Celeste Borys and Mike Borys. A Utah judge dismissed Ballard's wife from lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct.

A Utah judge dismissed claims against Katherine Ballard, the wife of Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard, in a lawsuit brought by a woman who alleges that Tim Ballard sexually assaulted her.

Celeste Borys has alleged in her lawsuit that Tim Ballard used the guise of the “couples ruse” — where individuals would pose as a couple to infiltrate child trafficking rings that OUR wanted to break up — as a pretext to sexually assault her on multiple occasions.

Katherine Ballard was named in the lawsuit because, Borys’ attorneys allege, statements by Katherine Ballard show that she was conspiring to protect her husband.

But Third District Court Judge Todd Shaughnessy said on Thursday that the allegations in the lawsuit pertaining to Katherine Ballard stemmed from public statements she had made that are protected under a state law that passed last year.

Except for the statements, Shaughnessy wrote, “plaintiffs have not presented evidence, as opposed to mere allegations” to support their allegations against Katherine Ballard. The judge dismissed Katherine Ballard as a defendant in the case and ordered the plaintiffs to pay her attorney fees.

“This decision is a win for all Americans and their right to speak out on a public matter like someone accusing them or their spouse unfairly,” Katherine Ballard said in a statement Thursday. “I will not be silent while someone tries to destroy my family in order to line their pockets. Today’s decision is a warning that unfounded accusations may generate some headlines but they won’t prevail in court.”

Borys’ attorneys said she is considering challenging the constitutionality of the statute arguing it “deprives Ms. Borys of her day in court to prove that Katherine Ballard was part of facilitating the couples ruse.”

“Providing additional protections to those traffickers that engaged in a civil conspiracy using the couples ruse at the expense of sex assault victims was not the intent of the Utah legislature in passing this law in 2023,” said Alan Mortensen, one of Borys’ attorneys.