KSL NEWS: Sean Reyes 'deeply saddened' by Tim Ballard allegations, won't endorse in Senate race


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said he's "shocked and deeply saddened" by allegations of sexual misconduct against his longtime friend and former Operation Underground Railroad CEO Tim Ballard.

In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Friday, Reyes also appeared to distance himself from Ballard by saying he wouldn't endorse anyone in Utah's upcoming 2024 Senate race. It was widely expected that Reyes would support Ballard, who said he is considering running for Sen. Mitt Romney's seat.

The statement was issued in response to a press conference Thursday, during which an attorney said to be representing several anonymous women accused Ballard of "sexual harassment, spiritual manipulation, grooming and sexual misconduct."

The accusations follow similar allegations previously reported by Vice News.

Ballard has denied all allegations and called the timing "highly suspicious" in light of his considered political campaign.

Reyes is a longtime friend of Ballard and accompanied the anti-sex trafficking activist on a rescue mission in Colombia in 2014. The attorney general also lists himself as a producer of the recent hit film "Sound of Freedom," which is based on Ballard's career as a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

Here is Reyes' statement in full, as posted on X:

"I am shocked and deeply saddened by these allegations, but these women must be heard to ensure all credible evidence can be presented.

"Such evidence should be appropriately considered by any tribunal that can weigh them against contrary evidence or defenses of the accused. I sincerely hope there is due process and justice for all involved.

"Until we know more through the resolution of these cases and complaints, I strongly believe that Tim Ballard and OUR deserve a presumption of innocence just as women coming forward on these issues should have a presumption of credibility.

"Beyond that, I won't comment on the accusations made yesterday because I was not present to witness any of the alleged conduct. I don't have any information that can prove or disprove these claims.

"I can say that in all my interactions with Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad over many years, I have never seen or experienced anything improper or illegal.

"To the contrary, what I have witnessed and the work we have done together raising awareness of modern-day slavery, rescuing children and providing aftercare services has made, I believe, a positive impact on the world."

He went on to say that his office will continue to combat human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

Alan Crooks, Reyes' general consultant, added, "In light of so many unanswered questions and concerns, AG Reyes will not be endorsing anyone in Utah's 2024 U.S. Senate race."

Operation Underground Railroad issued a statement Thursday in response to the most recent allegations, saying that Ballard left the organization earlier this year after an investigation into the alleged behavior, but didn't specify what the conduct was.

"Operation Underground Railroad received an allegation of behavior that violated company policy by then-CEO Tim Ballard," the statement said. "The organization immediately placed Mr. Ballard on administrative leave and launched an independent, external investigation of the allegation. At the conclusion of the investigation, as previously stated by OUR, Mr. Ballard resigned.

"Mr. Ballard's alleged misconduct does not represent OUR's values or others within the organization. OUR is dedicated to combating sexual abuse and stands with anyone who has been victimized. OUR is sensitive to the privacy concerns of any individuals affected by this and is committed to upholding our duty to protect their anonymity.

Several former Operation Underground Railroad staffers alleged that Ballard may have misled donors about the organization's purported "rescue" missions, according to investigative documents obtained by KSL.com last week.

This story will be updated.

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