The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Third Judicial Court of Utah, comes a month after it was publicly revealed that Ballard had resigned from the nonprofit child rescue group he founded, Operation Underground Railroad, or O.U.R.
Ballard was under investigation by an outside firm hired by O.U.R. for allegedly coercing at least seven women to act like “wives” while on overseas missions — an allegation he has denied.
Ballard, a former Homeland Security agent, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. Last month, he dismissed allegations against him as “false.”
In the lawsuit filed Monday, a woman identified as “WW” said that she reached out to Ballard on Instagram in April 2021 because she believed the man she was dating might have been involved in trafficking.
Ballard allegedly invited the woman to his office in Lehi, Utah, to discuss her concerns. During the conversation, Ballard allegedly asked the woman if she would ever go undercover, to which the woman responded, “No,” but said she would consider it. The woman says she was then told to sign a non-disclosure agreement and was instructed not to mention anything to anyone, the suit states.
The woman says Ballard told her about a tactic he used on missions called “Couples Ruse,” where women would accompany him so the traffickers would not become suspicious that they were involved in a sting operation.
Ballard claimed to have strict rules for the “Couples Ruse” including no kissing or touching in a sexual manner, but allegedly used it as a way to groom the women, according to the lawsuit.
The suit describes one instance where Ballard told WW that a person she credited with helping her heal from a past sexual assault could not be trusted. WW believed Ballard because she trusted him, the suit says.
The lawsuit describes another instance where Ballard allegedly caressed the woman’s leg during a meeting at his office to prepare her for a mission.
“WW immediately tensed up but thought that Ballard was testing her and that she should just keep talking as if nothing were happening,” the lawsuit says. “WW kept talking as Ballard stroked her neck.”
The suit says that Ballard got “frustrated” and asked WW why she wasn’t responding to him and told her that he needed to know she was attracted to him.
During a mission in Mexico, Ballard is accused of groping WW repeatedly. Each time, he insisted that they had to “remain in character” and act as if they were a “kinky couple” to make the sting seem believable, according to the suit. The woman also alleges that Ballard took her on missions at different massage parlors that left her in dangerous situations.
The woman said in the lawsuit that she felt re-traumatized by the mission and had nightmares when she returned home. She refused to do any more missions.
WW realized what happened was not a normal part of the mission after another woman identified as “DM” told her that Ballard had allegedly “pushed her up against the wall and licked her stomach,” the lawsuit says.
WW, DM and three other women sued Ballard for sexual assault and battery, fraud, emotional distress and conspiracy. O.U.R., its board and its affiliated companies are also listed as defendants.
“They are baseless inventions designed to destroy me and the movement we have built to end the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children,” Ballard said last month in a statement about the allegations through his new anti-trafficking organization, The Spear Fund.
Ballard, a married father of nine, went on to say that he enforced strict guidelines while at O.U.R.
“Sexual contact was prohibited, and I led by example,” he said. “Given our meticulous attention to this issue, any suggestion of inappropriate sexual contact is categorically false.”
O.U.R. previously confirmed to NBC News that Ballard resigned on June 22, but did not say why he left. The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Attorneys for the women said their clients had reported their concerns to O.U.R. but were ignored.
“As a result, Tim Ballard was not exposed by O.U.R. for what he truly is — a sexual predator,” the attorneys said in a news release.
“Sound of Freedom,” the film based on Ballard’s life starring Jim Caviezel, became a surprise box office hit over the summer. The movie developed a devoted following among conservative and religious groups, drawn to its portrayal of Ballard heroically breaking up child sex trafficking rings.
“The tragic irony is not lost on these five women: that Tim Ballard literally trafficked them for his own sexual and egotistical gratification,” attorneys Suzette Rasmussen and Alan Mortensen said.