For additional articles covering OUR, please go to ACJ Investigates- Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad
Operation Underground Railroad Retains Kirton McConkie to Silence & Intimidate ex-Jump Team Member
Where o’ where is the Utah press? You created this monster, Operation Underground Railroad. For years Utah journalists opted for stenography over fact-checking Tim Ballard, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Operation Underground Railroad. More importantly, it’s safe to say majority of the victims are citizens of Utah. A lot of them are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This might concern Utahans.
There is criminal investigation into Operation Underground Railroad and Tim Ballard underway by the Davis County District Attorney. Sean Reyes, one of Ballard’s best friends and who is a board member of OUR- his own office’s ICAC Unit severed ties with OUR and is investigating their relationship with the organization. Worse, Washington State Patrol which is what gave OUR legitimacy during the controversial Net-Nanny stings, recently severed all affiliation with the organization. They publicly ‘dissed’ OUR for using petty donations as some major “partnership” and fabricated “involvement”. The head of WSP’s Missing Children and Child Exploitation Division Det. Carlos Rodriguez, retired and was hired by OUR. He resigned in just a few months. After losing affiliation with WSP and Utah’s ICAC Unit, Operation Underground Railroad is effectively finished. Yet, they’re raising millions of dollars.
We know why the Deseret News won’t report anything, but where is everyone else?
Over the last year, at least eight people (not including myself) have received cease and desists, legal threats with a hint of the divine either from Kirton McConkie or Adam Becker on behalf of their client, Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). I had the pleasure and privilege to interview these eight courageous men and women who received C&Ds.
From my observation, and by their own admission, one thing was obvious- they were scared and nervous; some even paranoid.
Even I fell victim to the anxiety and paranoia for a moment right after my very first interview with the director of a non-profit that cares for orphan children or as OUR calls it, an “aftercare” facility. While it was nothing at all in the end, a story for another time, it’s the mindset you enter…. there are no coincidences. After talking to people about this endless rabbit hole, reading the messages, emails and documents, then interviewing and hearing directly from victims and witnesses…. their perspective feeds the paranoid.
Every witness and victim that received a cease and desist was anxious and feared reprisal. Not a single one of them could afford an attorney. Two broke down sobbing during our conversations. One told me, I’ll call her ‘Barbara’; said she “loved OUR“. She believed in them; “they were angels”. She had the receipts to prove it. Even with all the red flags, the strain on her relationships and finances that left this “constant knot” in her stomach. It weighed on her, but she admits, “I was invested financially, and emotionally. Any mention of OUR doing something wrong, anything suspicious, it couldn’t be true. I wouldn’t allow it to be”.
It was like the pain of a first heartbreak, but this wasn’t the delicate balance of love and lust being crushed, finality setting in. There was no “tomorrow’s another day” moment. All hope was… stolen.
Another interview, I had to try on at least six different occasions, and it wasn’t because she was on the other side of the world. She was scared. OUR had become like an abuser. Omnipresent and all knowing. Her biggest fear? OUR finding out who she was by reading an article that hasn’t been written yet. I had no clue what the article was going to be about. She wasn’t worried that I’d expose her. Rather, someone in OUR would “read between the lines” and somehow “connect words or phrases” to her. Even if I didn’t publish everything, and used just a small portion of her story- if they found out they would assume she told me “everything”. A few of our early conversations ended on the possibility that if I published anything negative about OUR and nothing came from her, OUR might think it was her anyway.
Unfortunately out of eight, only two would go on record. That’s only if we agree to keep their name and certain information that could possibly identify them confidential.
That folks, is the fear and anxiety these people had. It was the price of doing the right thing. Which I found odd. These were grown adults. Except for two witnesses being co-volunteers, they didn’t know each other. As they say, they were from all walks of life. Except they all had one thing in common, well almost. With the exception of ‘William’, they either were members of the LDS Church or grew up in the Church. Two had ‘secretly’ quit believing but were keeping up appearances. Imagine being thirty years-old and having to still go to Church and LDS functions, out of fear? Which is something we will be going over in my next article.
Hell, even William had to express some form of “faith in god” before being a lock for one of two spots on OUR’s Jump Team.
One thing I do stress, is those who did receive cease and desist don’t count for the dozens of other witnesses and victims- employees, partners, volunteers and donors who didn’t receive one; that Lynn Packer and I interviewed just to get leads, for fact-checking or for other articles and material. There have been countless others interviewed by Lynn Packer and I, some with damning information. Most refuse to go on record, even if we follow strict confidentiality protocols such as changing certain details, dates and names. Many fear that OUR will figure out who it is no matter what. Silenced out of fear, because they know what Tim Ballard and the LDS Church are capable of.
One important thing to keep in mind- these are just witnesses and victims of OUR who received a cease and desist. There are countless others who may have received one; not just in our investigation. In nearly eight years, Operation Underground Railroad had virtually no negative press until we began our investigation. Lynn Packer had a few articles out there from a few years prior, but they were buried with glowing praise on blogs and stenography journalism. What does seems odd, there are a couple of “investigative journalists” and crime blogs that almost appeared “planted”, to appear in the event someone types “OUR fake” or “Operation Underground Railroad scam” into Bing or Google. Many of those sites had a few 150 to 200 word articles, likely cut and pastes from local newspapers. Then suddenly, a 6,000 word comprehensive look into Operation Underground Railroad, with an exclusive interview with Tim Ballard. One blog no one in the True Crime community has ever heard of, actually went on a mission with OUR. Yet, they’ve published nothing other than a few brief crime summaries and suddenly they’re with OUR’s prestigious “Jump Team” on a super secret mission. Again, nothing much after that. OUR staff and volunteers certainly wouldn’t have a hand in that?
Ultimately the cease and desists have been effective, yet shamelessly dangerous and reckless. It’s inline with LDS culture and philosophy. People who are afraid, that may have witnessed actual crimes and misconduct by Ballard and OUR now must live in fear. Regardless if they ever speak out or not, they must fear retaliation, frivolous lawsuits that are costly and smear campaigns in their communities to discredit them. If they can’t afford an attorney, they must go it alone with no knowledge or practice in court procedure and tort law. Which means most would simply comply and give in to what OUR wanted. Even if OUR has no intention of taking it to court, perception is now reality for those on the receiving end.
This is no different with Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) that OUR has every single volunteer and employee sign. There are good reasons for companies and partnerships to have NDAs, and while it’s not unusual for legitimate companies to have employees sign one, it’s strange for a non-profit. Companies have NDAs for good reasons. They are in place to protect companies from having confidential information, such as proprietary designs or formulas from being disclosed to potential investors, creditors, clients, or suppliers. Sometimes they are in place to prevent the poaching of employees by competitors. What many don’t realize, is that many NDAs are in place to shield the company from liability in the event the law is broken. Insider training and such being discussed either deliberately and often not. Such as two men talking at the bar about work, and someone overhears the conversation.
Operation Underground Railroad doesn’t design or produce products nor does it develop new intellectual properties, technologies or products.
Take one moment, if you haven’t already; and read William’s training in his own words. He’s served with a cease & desist, yet he wasn’t leaking proprietary formulas or designs to competitors. These are witnesses and victims of OUR’s misconduct, unethical behavior and quite possibly… crimes. That has been the sole concern for witnesses and victims from day one. At least two sexual assaults, an OUR volunteer and purported sex slave. What does OUR do if the victims try to speak? Do they console them? Get justice? Get vengeance? Resort to torture (like with the innocence Bristol brothers in Haiti)? Do they investigate the claims?
No. These are white Mormon men. Sex assaults and crimes against minorities and employees are “sins”. They’re mistakes, mild character flaws that should not derail one’s life. Think of all the good they do except those few indiscretions. Like the LDS Church, OUR wants to deal with it internally.
It’s about perception- truth be told. And perception is reality.
OUR wants current and former employees to believe they can get in serious trouble for talking about OUR, Tim Ballard and other “jump team member’s” conduct, abuses and activities even to journalists and police.
The Power of Denial
OUR hires Kirton McConkie, the most powerful law firm in the state of Utah that was bankrolled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The firm has operated, just as Vice reported a year or two ago, as the LDS Church’s legal sword and shield in sex abuse cases. I pointed this out in my article last year when OUR sent us a cease and desist. How could any legitimate organization who claims to fight and rescue children from “sex trafficking”, hire a law firm that silences and intimidates sex abuse victims of the LDS Church?
It’s an organization that silences and intimidates victims. Offers financial incentive for the family to accept their terms and conditions. The LDS Church has no problem dropping $20 million or $30 million to silence witnesses, families of the victims and the victims.
As someone who has read countless cease & desist letters over the years, those sent out on behalf of Operation Underground Railroad, it appears their attorney’s paralegals who typed it attempted to put forth this essence, this tone in the language that could only clearly be deciphered by those who understood this underlying spirit behind it.
Before some of you think and argue that this is just how Kirton McConkie frames their letters, it was the same tone when OUR had their attorney Adam Becker from Callister, Broberg & Becker send one to an elected official regarding complaints about Jon Lines’ conduct.
On behalf of six other people, an elected official sent out a complaint letter to Operation Underground Railroad’s board members (Ballard’s family) about then President of Operations Jon Lines’ conduct towards women and his engaging in “conspiracy theories”, high school gossip and proverbial witch-hunts when he came to Bishop, California on behalf of OUR to “find Karlie Guse”. Immediately OUR had their attorney Adam Becker send a C&D to not just intimidate the complainants, but speak highly of his superior qualifications. The letter dated January 29, 2019, admitted to receiving “several complaints by individuals against Mr. Lines”. In the C&D it states, they make it clear, “Operation Underground Railroad stands behind Jonathan Lines” and “we hold Jon Lines to the highest standard, and while no one is perfect, Mr. Lines has a unique talent set that serves to rescue children in communities around the world”.
The language of the C&D speaks as if Jon Lines was too great of a man. His “talents” and “experience is far too great” to address allegations of misconduct, lack of professionalism, spreading rumors and driving wedges against grown women of the community like a high school sophomore who spends his nights riding around with dweebs, giggling when they pass by porn shops. For many, it was his misogynist behavior.
The real question with the cease & desists both then and now is…. How does Operation Underground Railroad and Kirton McConkie even know?
They never interviewed witnesses and victims, or investigated claims made against them. They didn’t ask for text messages that Jon Lines had sent out, including those he sent to retired Detective Paul Dostie.
Kirton McConkie not only flat out denies everything and anything, they threaten and intimidate them. Tell them they are lying and even if the allegations are true, Tim Ballard, Jon Lines and Operation Underground Railroad has “mad skills”, they are “E-LEET”.
Their Cease & Desist sent to ACJ and I last year and the one sent to ‘William’ last week not only confirms what we’ve suspected all along, it demonstrates their strategy, ethics and character.
Their goal was to suppress the story before publication and they thought it would just disappear.
OUR, Ballard and Kirton McConkie were warned last year. I told them in my response to their cease & desist and published in the public domain; “this isn’t going away“.
If not ACJ, then perhaps another news agency, a large news organization with a much bigger outlet and significantly more reach. Just weeks ago, I reminded them of my so-called prophecy in a video covering the fabricated rescue of Operation Underground Railroad’s 2019 poster child, “Liliana”, that Vice exposed this past December. In that incident, Ballard shamelessly and disgustingly claimed to rescue the girl from her traffickers in New York City, when in fact the poor girl rescued herself… before OUR even existed.
This is not going away.
And it’s not.
That’s exactly what happened this past year. Since then, OUR has been examined by national media; NyTimes, Vice News, New Republic.
But where are the Utah Journalists?
Kirton McConkie Cease & Desist
The latest cease and desist sent from Kirton McConkie on behalf of Operation Underground Railroad was sent to ‘William’, whose story you’ve read here in his own words and was also part of a recent Vice News article. What this does not include is the nearly two dozen additional people that I’ve spoke with and the countless others Lynn Packer spoke with; that has allegedly been the victim of various other types of exploitation, sexual assault and intimidation committed by OUR operators and witnesses to criminal activity by Operation Underground Railroad. The laundry list includes directors of orphanages/schools or as Ballard calls them “aftercare” facilities that he has publicly names as “partners”. Multiple non-profit aftercare facility directors allege that OUR and founder Tim Ballard himself fabricated “rescues” and used orphan children at their facilities as props for a fictitious rescues to drive donations.
Kirton McConkie Cease & Desist:
The C&D addressed to ‘William’ is like all the others. You would think that OUR would have either paid Kirton McConkie to investigate the nature of the allegations; or Kirton McConkie would advise OUR to review materials and statements. Not out of fear of publication, but to see if it’s indeed true. If just some of the allegations are true, then defamation is the least of OUR and Ballard’s worries.
It goes beyond simply “protecting the brand” from potentially losing pledges and donors due to a journalist, critic or blogger questioning their tactics or tossing possibilities and theories. Mocking them. Or reading and publishing allegations of of Reddit in an Op-Ed.
Yet I have to ask again, where is the Utah press?
Questions and No Answers
Early Monday morning I sent the following questions (and others) to OUR’s attorney at Kirton McConkie, Brent A. Andrewsen and Tim Ballard’s sister Emily Evans who is Public Relations Director at Operation Underground Railroad.
Within just days, you allege that ‘William’s’ “statements constitute blatant defamation with clear intent to interfere with OUR’s operations”
Mr. Andrewsen, which statements are blatant defamation and intend to interfere with OUR’s operations?
How do they interfere with said “operations”?
How do you know they interfere with mentioned operations?
Do you know the statements were false?
How do you know the statements are false?
What steps did you take to investigate and how did you determine the statements were false?
Did you even investigate the claims?
Has OUR conducted an internal investigation?
What steps did OUR take in their internal investigations?
Have you attempted to interview witnesses?
Did you interview the person making the claims?
Did you try to contact the individuals making the claims?
Can you prove these statement were false, and are intended to solely interfere with OUR’s operations?
It’s important to note, OUR’s attorney, Brent A. Andrewsen from Kirton McConkie and Tim Ballard’s sister Emily Evans who is Public Relations Director at Operation Underground Railroad have outright refused to answer questions or even respond when I gave them another courtesy of intent to publish an article regarding their most recent C&D they sent to ‘William’.
It’s been over a week, 10 days in fact. Clearly, they hoped this wouldn’t get out.
Ultimately, the above is not what legitimate organizations do. This type of Cease & Desist tactic is used by criminal enterprises, pyramid schemes, MLMs and yes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the strategy is to intimidate anyone irrespective of the facts or truth into absolute silence, for most, it goes much deeper than that. There is a real disconnect here, without foresight and situational awareness. It further demonstrates just how out of touch Tim Ballard and really LDS culture is out of touch with reality. They’re “totally” operating in the 80’s, using the sleazy, corrupt corporation TV trope in a 2021 reality.
The good news?
Operation Underground Railroad and Kirton McConkie are officially on record.
Again, where are Utah’s journalists?
For more information on this and other cases visit Your True Crime Source at https://americancrimejournal.com or https://mytruecrime.com/
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