Mormon Church Denounces Tim Ballard’s “Morally Unacceptable” Activities

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A church spokesperson tells VICE News that Ballard “betrayed his friendship” with a powerful leader, who “never authorized his name, or the name of the Church, to be used for Tim’s personal or financial interests.”

Documents obtained by VICE News show anti-trafficking activist Tim Ballard claimed that a revered and powerful figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played a secret, central role in Operation Underground Railroad, or OUR, the organization Ballard founded. Insiders who spoke to federal and local investigators as part of a since-closed criminal inquiry described Ballard claiming that OUR and his personal business ventures were backed by the senior member of the church’s second-highest leadership body, and part of a larger mission to use the anti-trafficking cause to bring Americans to the Mormon faith—or, in his words, “lead them to the covenant.”

“Tim is fully convinced that he is supposed to be the ‘Mormon Messiah and lead people back to the church,’” read notes from an interview between criminal investigators and a former OUR higher-up.

But now a spokesperson for the church tells VICE News that while the apostle in question, President M. Russell Ballard, was once close to Tim Ballard—to whom he is not related, despite their sharing a last name—the OUR founder “betrayed their friendship, through the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable.”

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