OUR says it carries out several rescue operations per week. The group’s founder posts a video about women posing as spouses during surgeries to free children.
Operation Underground Railroad denies allegations that the anti-human trafficking nonprofit misled donors by leading them to believe the group was still conducting rescue missions even though it hadn’t done so in years, according to former employees.
In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday, it said the organization “on average conducts multiple missions per week in the field.”
“Any past or present representation that UNSER is not participating in rescue missions is false,” he added. “OUR’s ongoing work represents a combination of field operations, intelligence gathering and providing resources to law enforcement.”
The claim is in response to statements made by two former employees in interviews with investigators from the FBI and the Davis County Attorney’s Office that Matt Osborne, the head of OUR since parting ways with its founder Tim Ballard, told each of them that they didn’t take participate more in rescue operations.
Essentially, according to the former high-ranking employees, OUR led donors to believe that their money was funding rescue operations, when in fact the money was being donated to law enforcement and other nonprofit organizations, with OUR taking a portion of it to pay OUR salaries, make investments and foot other expenses.
“OUR is committed to fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” the organization said in its statement. “OUR investigators are working to identify as many human trafficking victims as possible, working closely with local law enforcement.”
Dispute with the LDS Church
OUR has been caught up in the whirlwind of criticism and accusations surrounding Tim Ballard, who was recently accused of exploiting the name of M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. to further his business ventures and, according to VICE News, engaged in sexual misconduct with multiple women during our assignments.
The church issued a sharp rebuke to Tim Ballard, saying that the 94-year-old apostle (the two Ballards are not related) severed his relationship with the OUR founder “when it became clear that Tim Ballard had betrayed their friendship through the unauthorized use.” .” of President Ballard’s name for the personal benefit of Tim Ballard and [for] Activity that is considered morally unacceptable.”
Tim Ballard has strongly denied both allegations and suggested that someone in the church was acting without the approval of faith leadership to torpedo his potential bid for Mitt Romney’s U.S. Senate seat.
On Monday, Tim Ballard posted a video on his Instagram account explaining how OUR teams would use a tactic called “pairlist” in their rescue operations. Ballard said taking a woman posing as a wife while soliciting underage children for sex provided cover so agents had an excuse not to engage in acts with the child.
“You go in and one of you might act like, ‘Yes, I want to participate in this sex act with this woman or this child, but I can’t because my girlfriend won’t let it,'” Tim Ballard said of the video . “But in the end we block each other. So the trafficker sees the situation and realizes that I have every excuse not to participate.”
Another OUR departure
VICE News, citing unnamed sources, reported that Ballard took liberties with women who posed as his wife on undercover missions, forcing them to share a bed or shower together to sell the roles. An OUR spokesman said in a statement that Ballard left the organization after the group hired a law firm to investigate the misconduct allegations.
Also this week, OUR Chief Legal Officer Alessandra Serano posted on her LinkedIn page that she has left the organization.
“I am proud to announce that I resigned from my current position with Operation Underground Railroad earlier this month,” Serano wrote. “I stand with survivors, no matter who or where they are. #Me too.”
Serano is a former federal prosecutor who handled an early case involving Tim Ballard, which Ballard described as a formative event in its development. Fictional elements of the case later became the basis for the film “Sound of Freedom,” in which Ballard is the central character.
Significant portions of the film and the version of events recounted by Ballard at various speeches contradict the events depicted in court documents filed by Serano in the case. Tim Ballard said those court documents were false.