Operation Underground Railroad wanted Tim Ballard gone in 72 hours. New docs show it took weeks.

New court documents shed new light on the chain of events leading up to Ballard’s hasty departure from OUR.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, at the group's "Share Our Light" gala in Salt Lake City on Saturday, November 5, 2016. Documents filed in a lawsuit outline how quickly the board wanted Ballard to step down after an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

When allegations of sexual misconduct led to Tim Ballard’s ouster from Operation Underground Railroad, the anti-child-trafficking organization he founded a decade earlier, it appears he might not have left empty-handed nor as rapidly as OUR’s board had liked.

At a minimum, Ballard was promised 18 months of his salary totaling $618,000 and a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee valued at around $22,000, according to an unsigned copy of OUR’s separation with Ballard. The document was included as an exhibit in the latest legal filing by five women suing Ballard for sexual misconduct and assault.

Ballard, according to another exhibit in the lawsuit, was demanding more. A letter from Ballard’s attorneys show he wanted two years of severance — an additional six months totaling $206,000 — plus a five-year consulting deal with OUR, paid through a grant to Liberty and Light, another nonprofit Ballard ran. He also wanted full insurance benefits, approval of the OUR’s next CEO, signoff on any public statements about his departure, and a mutual nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreement with the nonprofit.

Attorneys for the women suing Ballard allege in their lawsuit that Ballard received what he was asking for, though none of that is reflected in the separation agreement dated two days after Ballard’s lawyers made their demands.

A spokesperson for OUR said Tuesday that they could not comment on any separation agreements OUR signed or the legitimacy of the documents — which are among several internal OUR legal documents attached to the suit.

A spokesperson for Ballard did not respond to questions from The Salt Lake Tribune about details of OUR founder’s exit.

His severance package aside, the documents shed new light on the chain of events leading up to Ballard’s hasty departure.

OUR has previously said that as soon as it received an allegation that Ballard had violated company policy, “The organization immediately placed Mr. Ballard on administrative leave and launched an independent, external investigation of the allegation. At the conclusion of the investigation, as previously stated by OUR, Mr. Ballard resigned.”

The letter from Ballard’s lawyers to OUR details how the group’s board of directors had asked Ballard on June 8 to resign within 72 hours.

Rather than resign immediately, Ballard and his lawyers had a videoconference June 12 in which they objected to the results of the investigation, according to the documents. In a letter two days later, Ballard’s lawyers reference that call and reiterate to the OUR board that they “firmly object to the findings and disagree with the conclusions drawn based on the facts and circumstances.”

Ballard had cooperated with the investigation and “his administrative leave on which he was placed over a month ago,” the letter in the lawsuit states, meaning he would have been put on administrative leave sometime in May.

“OUR is dedicated to combatting sexual abuse, and does not tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination by anyone in its organization,” the organization said in statement to the media.

According to OUR’s previous public statement, Ballard resigned June 22. Ballard joined The SPEAR Fund, another group focused on human trafficking, where he is listed as a senior adviser over rescue operations.

At the end of July, after VICE News had reported on his departure from OUR, Ballard denied that the separation had anything to do with allegations of sexual misconduct.

“This was in the works eight months ago, about me leaving. And with the success of the film (”Sound of Freedom”), the bottom line is there are so many entanglements with nonprofits and … so many conflicts of interest potentially if you want to do other things,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune in July. “So as the film was gearing up, I took off.”

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