Tim Ballard’s accusers say they don’t trust A.G. Sean Reyes’ office to investigate Reyes’ former friend

Attorneys for the women accusing Ballard of sexual misconduct say they won’t be part of A.G. probe; they’re counting on other police depts.

(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.

The women accusing Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard of sexual misconduct and assault will not take part in an investigation launched last month by Attorney General Sean Reyes, citing Reyes’ close friendship with Ballard and a lack of trust in the office.

“We wouldn’t be in this situation if he would have done his job and followed through on all the claims that have been made before us for years and years and years,” said Kira Lynch, one of seven women suing Ballard and OUR, the anti-trafficking group he founded.

While questions have been raised about OUR’s operations over the past few years, allegations that Ballard abused women connected with OUR first became widely public in 2023. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office has said previously that the office had not received any complaints about Ballard or OUR.

For nearly a decade, Reyes and Ballard were close friends and Reyes helped promote Ballard and OUR, raised money for the organization, participated in undercover operations with the group and was an associate producer on the movie “Sound of Freedom,” loosely based on Ballard’s story. Reyes even pitched a scene featuring himself for the film, according to a lawsuit filed by the women accusing Ballard of sexual abuse.

Reyes met with the women last month and said he apologized “that my past friendship and strong associations with OUR contributed to an environment that made them feel powerless and without a voice to fight back for many years.” He also announced his office was launching an investigation into Ballard and OUR.

Alan Mortensen, one of the lawyers representing Ballard’s accusers, said his clients appreciated Reyes’ apology, but his clients still don’t trust that Reyes or his office can conduct a impartial investigation.

“We don’t have confidence in the attorney general’s office,” he said.

The attorney general’s spokesperson said that office has “full confidence in the ethics and professionalism of the investigators” handling the Ballard case.

A number of people in the office who have had dealings with Ballard in the past, including Reyes, are walled off from having any involvement in the case, but the office denied an open records request from The Salt Lake Tribune for a screening memo about evidence and who is recused.

Other agencies are investigating the women’s allegations, said attorney Suzette Rasmussen, and her clients are working with them.

Last week, Rasmussen and one of her clients, Celeste Borys, traveled to California to file complaints with law enforcement in four jurisdictions. Borys had previously filed a criminal complaint with the Lindon Police Department, which confirmed it was investigating.

Speaking Monday, Borys said the process of having to describe what was done to her to each of the police departments was “humiliating.”

“It was the worst thing that I’ve ever had to do,” she said, adding that she did it because, “It has to stop. He has to stop,” and she believes Ballard belongs in jail.

Whitney Bernstein, an attorney defending Ballard, accused Borys and her attorneys of going to police to gain leverage to try to force Ballard into paying Celeste Borys and her husband, Michael.

“The Boryses have never explained why Celeste chose to keep traveling with, working with, and publicly and privately praising Tim Ballard for nearly a year after these alleged incidents,” Bernstein said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a transparent effort to pressure Tim to make a financial settlement but he is fully committed to proving these allegations false and reclaiming his reputation.”

Borys said it is Ballard’s attorneys who are motivated by money. “They bill Tim every time they publicly humiliate Tim’s” alleged sexual assault victims, she said.

“At this point our clients have put their trust in law enforcement and we are confident that each of the agencies our clients have met with … will do a thorough job of investigating and move forward with prosecution,” Rasmussen said.