The team behind it Sound of freedom has so far remained silent about new allegations involving Tim Ballard, who is portrayed as the hero in the film Passion of the Christ‘s Jim Caviezel.
Ballard, founder of the anti-child trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad, reached a new level of fame this summer when the film became a hit that grossed more than $182 million domestically and $210 million worldwide.
On Monday one Shame News report detailed anonymous allegations against Ballard regarding his quiet departure in late June from OUR, which he launched in 2013. His departure came as soon as Sound of freedom filmmaker Alejandro Monteverde and Angel Studios were preparing the film for release during the 4th of July holiday.
Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security official, embarked on undercover overseas missions to combat child trafficking when he founded OUR. According to ShameDuring these missions, he had women pose as his wives and allegedly forced them to share a bed or a shower with him, under the guise that this behavior was necessary to fool child traffickers.
Shame also reported that an OUR employee who traveled with Ballard on an overseas mission filed a sexual harassment claim against him. Ballard has not directly addressed or responded to the allegations THR‘s request for comment.
Fillmaker Monteverde did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Neither does Angel Studios.
A spokesperson for OUR issued the following statement THR, which read in part: “Tim Ballard resigned from OUR on June 22, 2023. He has permanently separated from OUROUR, is committed to combating sexual abuse and will not tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination by anyone in the organization. OUR has engaged an independent law firm to conduct a comprehensive investigation into all relevant allegations, and OUR continues to review and improve the organization’s governance and protocols for its activities.”
Sound of freedom‘s box office performance was partly due to a grassroots campaign by Angel that made audiences feel part of a movement to end child trafficking. The screenings included a message from Caviezel at the end urging audiences to use a Pay It Forward service, which would allow them to purchase tickets for other moviegoers to see the film. Although the film was discussed on QAnon message boards, Angel and the filmmakers disputed that it was a QAnon film, or even political.
Ballard is an ally of Donald Trump, who hosted a private screening of the film in New Jersey in mid-July. Ballard has floated the idea in recent days of running for Mitt Romney’s Senate seat when Romney’s term ends.
In a guest column from August 14 for The Hollywood Reporterwrote director Monteverde and co-writer Rod Barr: “Everyone who has seen it Sound of freedom know that the film itself is not political at all. It is based on the story of a real person, Tim Ballard, who left his job at Homeland Security to rescue trafficked children. While developing, researching, and writing the story, we don’t remember a single conversation with Tim about politics. Why? Because personal politics should be irrelevant when you rescue children from human trafficking.”