A married anti-child slavery activist who was the inspiration for the “Sound of Freedom” film has been dogged by allegations he sexually harassed seven women on overseas missions and took advantage of a Mormon elder.
Tim Ballard, who founded the anti-sex trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) a decade ago, abruptly resigned in June after the group started probing the sexual misconduct claims against him, Vice News reported Monday.
Sources familiar with the investigation said Ballard — who was portrayed by Jim Cavaziel onscreen in “Sound of Freedom” — had allegedly asked women to act as his “wife” on undercover missions carried out to rescue sex-trafficking victims.
He allegedly pressured women to share a bed or shower with him during the missions, suggesting it was necessary to fool the traffickers, the sources claimed.
Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security official, was also accused of sending one woman an underwear-clad photo of himself and asking how far she was willing to go to save trafficked kids.
While Ballard’s sudden exit from O.U.R was publicly reported three months ago, neither him or the organization offered up an explanation at the time.
The outcome of the investigation wasn’t immediately clear.
Ballard hasn’t publicly addressed the sexual harassment allegations.
A spokesperson for O.U.R also wouldn’t address the claims leveled against Ballard, but said in a statement Monday that the organization “is dedicated to combatting sexual abuse, and does not tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination by anyone in its organization.”
“O.U.R retained an independent law firm to conduct a comprehensive investigation of all relevant allegations, and O.U.R continues to assess and improve the governance of the organization and protocols for its operations.”
Prior to the allegations being made public, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — of which Ballard is a member — had put out a statement accusing the activist of exploiting his relationship with Mormon elder, M Russell Ballard, to promote personal and financial interests.
The church, without elaborating, denounced Ballard’s activity as “morally unacceptable.”
“President Ballard and Tim Ballard (no relation) established a friendship a number of years ago,” the church’s statement said.