- Tim Ballard, a former agent with the Department of Homeland Security and the subject of 2023 movie Sounf of Freedom, founded Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) in 2013 to combat sex trafficking and has since saved over 7,000 lives.
- Ballard’s testimony before Congress in 2015 led to reforms in the fight against sex trafficking, including increased cooperation with other countries.
- While Ballard has faced allegations and controversies, including investigations into O.U.R.’s practices and claims of falsified data, his story and work have received significant media attention through documentaries and the release of the film Sound of Freedom.
Sound of Freedom tells Tim Ballard’s story as a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security who sets out to save children from sex trafficking rings. The 2023 action film became a surprise hit at the box office, beating out blockbusters like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and The Flash at the domestic box office. A lot of Sound of Freedom‘s success relates to the fact that it claims to be based on a true story, with Tim Ballard’s story striking a chord with audiences in a profound way.
Along with other characters in Sound of Freedom, Tim Ballard (Jim Caviezel) is a real person who quit his job with the Department of Homeland Security to track down a missing child who has been kidnapped by sex traffickers. His mission led him to Colombia, where, with the help of the police, he saved numerous children from a trafficking ring, as depicted in the film. Following the release of Sound of Freedom, some fans wonder what happened to Ballard following the operation in Colombia and what he is up to nowadays.
Jim Caviezel’s action thriller Sound of Freedom was a surprise success at the box office, but will the controversial film get another installment?
Tim Ballard Founded Operation Underground Railroad
Ballard Continued To Battle Sex Trafficking Abroad
In 2013, Tim Ballard founded Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), a United States-based non-profit organization that works to end sex trafficking. Ballard decided to continue what he set out to do in Colombia and became a full-time anti-sex trafficking activist. According to O.U.R.’s website, the organization has impacted more than 7,000 lives, been involved in more than 6,500 arrests, and conducted more than 4,000 operations. O.U.R. oversees numerous missions to save children and others from human sex trafficking in the United States and sometimes other countries, which was made possible thanks to Ballard.
Tim Ballard Testified In Congress In Trafficking Hearings
Ballard’s Testimony Led To Reforms Related To The Combat Of Trafficking
After Tim Ballard returned from his mission in Colombia and founded Operation Underground Railroad, he testified before the United States Congress regarding matters of sex trafficking in 2015. Ballard wanted to make it easier for United States officials to conduct operations in other countries to save victims of sex trafficking. Ballard had to quit his job because it was difficult for him, as a Department of Homeland agent, to operate on foreign land.
Partly thanks to his testimonies before Congress, the government passed laws that require United States officials to cooperate with other countries on sex trafficking investigations. At least, that is what the epilogue in Sound of Freedom claims. Ballard shared his experiences with sex trafficking cases during the congressional hearing, which the committee undoubtedly took into consideration and held in high regard given his expertise on paper.
Sound of Freedom has become the biggest box office surprise of the year, and it has beaten several major 2023 movies in the process of its rise.
Tim Ballard Was Appointed To The White House’s Human Trafficking Council
The Council Has Since Been Terminated
While Donald Trump was President of the United States, he appointed Tim Ballard as a member of the White House Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking in 2019. He, along with Kevin P. Malone, Kristin Weis, Linda Smith, Diana Mao, Bruce Deel, Teresa Lynn Davidson, Jennifer Jensen, and Sandra L. Morgan, were among those to join the Council. The appointment included a two-year term, which ended early when the Council was terminated under the terms of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017. So the Council is no longer in service as of September 30, 2020.
Three Tim Ballard Documentaries Were Made In Addition To Sound Of Freedom
Ballard’s Story Has Been Thrust Into The Mainstream
Before the Sound of Freedom cast and crew recreated Tim Ballard’s story for the big screen, three documentaries were made about his life. The first one was released in 2016 and was called The Abolitionists. Darrin Fletcher and Chet Thomas directed the documentary, which featured footage from one of Operation Underground Railroad’s sting operations in Columbia, led by Ballard. Following the release of the documentary, the filmmakers decided to continue their project as a television series and produced seven episodes that each focused on different sex trafficking operations.
The second documentary about Ballard’s story, Operation Toussaint, came out in 2018. Nick Nanton directed Operation Toussaint, which documented an undercover mission, run by Ballard and O.U.R., to bring down a sex trafficking ring in Haiti. The third and final documentary, Operation Triple Take, was released in 2020 and directed by Nanton. So with three documentaries and one feature film about his life out in the world, Ballard is in the spotlight more than ever before.
Tim Ballard And O.U.R. Were Investigated For Criminal Behavior
There Have Also Been Doubts Raised About Ballard’s Stories
While Tim Ballard has plenty of media exposure in 2023, not all of it has been good. The release of Sound of Freedom has made a few controversies from Ballard’s past resurface, including allegations against his non-profit, Operation Underground Railroad. The Attorney’s Office of Davis County in Utah opened an investigation into O.U.R. following a series of complaints in October 2020. Some alleged that the organization engaged in illegal fundraising opportunities. Ultimately, the Davis County Attorney’s Office never filed any charges and closed the case in March 2023.
Aside from legal troubles, Ballard and O.U.R. have been the subject of many claims that the non-profit falsifies its data regarding the number of children it has saved. The organization has also been scrutinized for its methods, with some criticizing its members for unethical practices. There are also some who feel Ballard’s stories are fabrications and the truth behind O.U.R. is not what is being presented to the public.
In cinema history, filmmakers tackled the subject of human trafficking with both sensitivity and urgency, aiming to raise awareness and inspire action
Tim Ballard Is No Longer Involved With O.U.R.
The Real Tim Ballard Isn’t With The Organization He Founded
According to Vice, Tim Ballard stepped away from Operation Underground Railroad shortly before Sound of Freedom was released in theaters on July 4, 2023. His separation from the anti-sex trafficking non-profit organization was done quietly, which is why the news didn’t come out until a week following the movie’s premiere. The reasoning behind Ballard’s leave is unclear as of the writing of this article, but one account of the situation asserts that he had been pushed out of O.U.R. by the other board members following claims of sexual misconduct leveled against Ballard.
Whatever the case, following the ending of Sound of Freedom‘s events, Ballard is no longer involved with the non-profit organization that he started in 2013. He has not commented on the matter since he has been more concerned with promoting his new film that claims to document his life story. Only time will tell what Tim Ballard does next following the success of Sound of Freedom.
Based on the story of government agent Tim Ballard, Sound of Freedom is a dramatized-action film that follows Ballard as he heads to Colombia to break up a sex trafficking ring and save the children within it. After feeling like his work in the United States isn’t having the intended effect, Ballard decides to investigate further, learning that a former victim is still being held captive in Colombia.
- Release Date
- July 4, 2023
- Alejandro Monteverde
- Jim Caviezel , Mira Sorvino , Bill Camp , Eduardo Verastegui , Javier Godino , José Zúñiga
- 131 Minutes
- Rod Barr , Alejandro Monteverde
- Santa Fe Films
- Angel Studios
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