For additional articles covering OUR, please go to ACJ Investigates- Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad
On December 10, 2020, a VICE News article exposed Tim Ballard weaving an elaborate web of lies with exaggerated & fabricated law enforcement partnerships and claiming to rescue a trafficking victim who rescued herself.
“Liliana’s story”, helped O.U.R. raise over $21 million in 2019, a record breaking year for Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. “Liliana” became O.U.R.’s faceless poster child, except for the digital Valentine’s Day card “the little girl” designed to be sold solely by O.U.R. for $3.99 each.
On January 29, 2019, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) founder and CEO Tim Ballard wrote an op-ed for Fox News, introducing “Liliana” a child O.U.R. had recently “rescued from sex traffickers” in New York City.
Ballard stated, “Not long ago, a 13-year-old girl from Central America – let’s call her Liliana – was kidnapped from her village, then trafficked into the U.S. at a location where there is no wall or barrier. From there, she was taken to New York City, where she was raped by American men 30 to 40 times a day. The private anti-trafficking organization I founded over five years ago, Operation Underground Railroad, eventually helped Liliana escape her hell, and she is now healing in our care, as she prepares to take on her captors in federal court.”
Over the next two weeks, Ballard told several different versions of Liliana’s story and including another version of her story in a meeting with President Trump. This ultimately resulted in Tim Ballard testifying before Congress in a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. A few weeks later, Ballard resigned as CEO.
By then Liliana’s story reached millions of Americans. The only problem was…. It just simply wasn’t true. “Liliana” bravely escaped her traffickers on her own, years ago.
“The little girl” was 23 years-old by the time Ballard claimed O.U.R. had “recently” rescued her and guided her through recovery. There was no record of O.U.R.’s evolvement by any agency. Both federal and NY state government agencies and non-government partnered organizations that would have helped “Liliana” has never had a partnership or any involvement with O.U.R.
Original Article by Anna Merlan and Tim Marchman: A Famed Anti-Sex Trafficking Group Has a Problem With the Truth