LOCAL NEWS

‘Gaslighting on a global scale’: 6 Tim Ballard accusers speak publicly for the first time

Nov 21, 2023, 10:44 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Five women and one man who have accused Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard of sexual assault in a pair of anonymous lawsuits revealed their identities and spoke publicly with reporters for the first time Tuesday.

In a tearful, lengthy interview in Salt Lake City, the plaintiffs explained their desire to help the cause of ending human trafficking. Many said they did not want to take their stories to the public but felt an obligation to try to prevent others from being victimized in the same way they allege they were.

One of the plaintiffs, Kira Lynch, said it was “humiliating to share the most mortifying moments of my life publicly, but it had to be done to put a stop to this. To Tim Ballard and OUR: The truth is finally coming to light and the evil, the pure evil, can no longer hide.”

Several of the women allege Ballard manipulated and groomed them while having them pose as their girlfriend or wife while on undercover missions. Ballard has explained the so-called “couples ruse” used to fool traffickers and has vehemently denied any allegations of sexual misconduct.

Sasha Hightower described Ballard’s denials as “triggering,” and Lynch called them “devastating.”

“We don’t want him to hurt anyone,” she added.

“I feel infuriated, but I also feel terrified that that narrative will rule, and that will become the truth,” said Bree Righter, another one of the plaintiffs. “Because it’s gaslighting on a global scale. And if he, and frankly OUR (and) the Spear Fund aren’t stopped, this could continue. That’s what we’re scared of.”

The Spear Fund is a separate anti-trafficking organization where Ballard has served as a senior adviser since leaving Operation Underground Railroad this summer. The Spear Fund has previously provided statements denying the allegations against Ballard but did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Mike Borys, another plaintiff, called Ballard an “evil man,” and a “bully (who) has been allowed to carry out his disgusting deeds for far too long.” He said the plaintiffs aren’t trying to hurt the cause of human trafficking — as Ballard has argued in previous statements and on his podcast.

“We are not members of some cartel looking to undermine the cause of saving children,” he said. “We are not ‘pedophile enablers.’ We are not the ‘deep state’ or the ‘godless left.’ These are wives, and these are mothers, who wanted desperately to help the cause they so deeply believed in.”

Borys and his wife, Celeste Borys, are married but separated because of this experience, they say.

“I wanted to help fight the bad guys,” said Celeste Borys, another plaintiff. “Instead, I became a target for the worst guys.”

The group also accuses Operation Underground Railroad and its board of protecting Ballard when the women reported they had been sexually assaulted.

Plaintiff Mary Hall said it’s scary to come forward publicly, but said, “I believe in truth and letting light shine through.”

“I will not allow OUR or Tim Ballard to treat anyone else the way that I was treated,” Lynch said.

In response to a recent lawsuit filed by Righter, an Operation Underground Railroad spokesperson said the group “will defend the organization against the plaintiff’s misguided attempts to create confusion by painting a false narrative about OUR.”

“The current leadership of OUR has increased its commitment to provide a safe, respectful and harassment-free environment, and we are deeply sorry for any harm or distress that Tim Ballard’s actions may have caused to anyone associated with OUR,” the statement continues.

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‘Gaslighting on a global scale’: 6 Tim Ballard accusers speak publicly for the first time