NewsFox 13 Investigates


New court filings detail Tim Ballard's discipline with LDS Church

New court filings detail Tim Ballard's discipline with LDS Church
Posted at 8:41 PM, Jan 26, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — New court documents filed in a lawsuit against Tim Ballard have revealed new details about his standing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ballard was the founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a non-profit seeking to combat human trafficking. He “permanently separated” from the organization after OUR employees filed internal complaints, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

He is currently a defendant in four civil lawsuits. Three of the four lawsuits center around Ballard’s alleged sexual misconduct. According to his female accusers, Ballard is also the subject of at least seven criminal investigations.

Prior to the civil suits being filed, the LDS Church released a statement citing “betrayal” and condemning Ballard for “morally unacceptable behavior.” The statement accused Ballard of improperly using the name of President M. Russell Ballard for “personal advantage.”

At the time, M. Russell Ballard was serving as the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Despite sharing the same last name, they are not related.

Plaintiffs say Tim Ballard would sometimes use M. Russell Ballard’s name to justify sexual conduct, so long as it is used as part of an undercover technique to save “God’s children.”

Plaintiff Celeste Borys, who used to serve as Tim Ballard’s executive assistant, said she believes Ballard was “excommunicated” from the Church – in part because of sexual messages exchanged between Ballard and OUR’s female undercover operators.

As part of a recent court filing, attorneys for the women attached 37-pages of messages sent between Ballard and a woman who is currently only going by the pseudonym “JJ.”

Sometimes the messages are explicit in nature. Sometimes they philosophize about nontraditional views and criticisms of the LDS Church.

Attorneys for Ballard will likely argue the messages prove consent.

Attorneys for his accusers will likely argue the messages prove the women were groomed and manipulated into believing in an undercover anti-trafficking "tactic" ordained by God

Borys said she was tasked with obtaining a letter from Ballard’s bishop to show that he was still in good standing with the Church.

Court documents show Bishop Les Eldredge supplied the handwritten letter on September 17, 2023, but attempted to withdraw it via text message.

“In light of the Official Statement issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints issued on Friday, 9/15/23, I am rescinding the letter I shared with you on Sunday 9/17/23,” Eldredge wrote. “Therefore, you are not authorized to use the letter as an endorsement of good standing for Tim (Ballard), to any organization.”

Borys said she was asked to testify at an LDS Church disciplinary hearing on September 25, 2023. She stated Ballard’s former bishop asked her to testify that she “pre-loaded” sexual messages onto Ballard’s phone for him to send to OUR employees as part of an undercover tactic or training designed to save children from human trafficking. She declined to testify.

Attorneys for both sides are currently making arguments as to whether some of the records obtained by Borys and attached as evidence should be excluded from the case. Borys said she obtained the records from Ballard’s email address, which she had “unrestricted access” to as part of her job as his executive assistant. Ballard’s attorneys say the material was “stolen.”

In a signed declaration, Borys stated Ballard sent her a book proposal which included a story of how he was targeted as part of “a corporate coup” when he and OUR were under criminal investigation for fraud by the Davis County Attorney’s Office.

Borys stated the book included a scene in which Ballard “collapsed onto an asphalt parking lot” in Miami, Florida where he was “rescued by Tony Robbins,” upon hearing of the criminal investigation – according to court documents.

The court documents also include allegations that Ballard was addicted to Xanax, Ambien, and alcohol. Borys said she sympathized with Ballard at the time because she thought he was suffering from substance-abuse problems as a coping mechanism after having to watch child sex-abuse material.`

Ballard’s attorneys have previously stated the allegations against him are untrue, financially motivated, and part of a smear campaign.

Story Idea or Tips
If you have a story idea or tip for the FOX 13 Investigative unit, please share it with us below: