Sexual assault lawsuit against Tim Ballard first test for Utah’s new nondisclosure agreement law

Attorneys for a woman who accused Ballard of sexual assault have asked the court to amend their lawsuit, citing Utah’s recently enacted HB55.

(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, Mike Borys, Kira Lynch, Jordana (Bree) Righter, Sashleigha (Sasha) Hightower and Mary Hall.

A new Utah law voiding nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault is getting its first test in a lawsuit against Operation Underground Railroad and its founder, Tim Ballard.

Multiple women are suing Ballard alleging the founder of the anti-human trafficking nonprofit — and basis for the film “Sound of Freedom” — sexually abused and assaulted them. OUR countersued one of the plaintiffs, Celeste Borys, who was Ballard’s former executive assistant, seeking damages because, the organization said, Borys was violating a nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreement.

However, a law signed last month by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox states that such agreements do not apply in cases where sexual assault is alleged. The Legislature made HB55 retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023 — before Borys entered into her nondisclosure agreement in July 2023.

Borys’ husband, Michael Borys, testified in favor of the legislation during the session, saying he had “seen firsthand the devastation that NDAs cause in allowing evil to thrive in silence.”

Borys’ attorneys filed a motion late last week asking permission from the judge to amend the lawsuit and add references to the new law.

A spokesperson for OUR did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for Ballard declined to comment on the new law. Ballard’s attorneys have not raised the NDA issue in his defense.