Tim Ballard, the anti-human-trafficking activist who is considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year, on Tuesday denied allegations of sexual misconduct that were reportedly investigated ahead of his departure from Operation Underground Railroad earlier this year.
VICE News reported Monday that Ballard, who founded OUR, left the organization at the conclusion of an investigation into assertions by seven women that Ballard participated in sexual misconduct.
That denial also comes on the heels of a new VICE News report Tuesday that a participant in a 2016 undercover operation by OUR inappropriately touched a young girl. A documentary film crew allegedly captured the encounter.
In a statement from The Spear Fund, an anti-human-trafficking organization that calls Ballard a “senior adviser,” the OUR founder called the sexual misconduct allegations against him “baseless” and “tabloid-driven.”
“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,” the statement from Ballard read.
“During my time at OUR, I designed strict guidelines for myself and our operators in the field. Sexual contact was prohibited, and I led by example,” he said. “Given our meticulous attention to this issue, any suggestion of inappropriate sexual contact is categorically false.”
Ballard has been rocked in recent days by explosive allegations that threaten to upend his potential bid for U.S. Senate before it gets off the ground in Utah.
Last week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemned Ballard for his “morally unacceptable” behavior. A church spokesperson also said Ballard misrepresented his relationship with M. Russell Ballard, the acting president of the faith’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which “betrayed” their friendship. The two men are not related.
On Monday, reports surfaced that Ballard left OUR earlier this year after an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against him. Ballard, VICE News reported, allegedly invited women to pose as his spouse during undercover missions, then coerced them into sharing a bed or showering with him.
VICE News also reported Tuesday that Paul Hutchinson, listed as an executive producer of “Sound of Freedom,” the fictionalized biographical film about Ballard, touched the naked breasts of a 16-year-old trafficking victim during an operation in Mexico.
A written description of the footage was part of a trove of documents from a now-closed criminal investigation into Ballard and OUR conducted by the Davis County attorney’s office and the FBI. A handwritten note on a document about the Hutchinson video said, “OUR thought they had scrubbed this.”
Ballard and The Spear Fund did not immediately respond to requests for comment.