Church did not provide tithing records to Tim Ballard, Operation Underground Railroad, spokesman says
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ‘regards tithing records as sacred and keeps them confidential,’ spokesman says
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded Monday to allegations made last week in a lawsuit against Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard.
In an amended complaint filed Thursday, the lawsuit by five women who accused Tim Ballard of sexual assault suggested that church leaders may have shared tithing records with him and Operation Underground Railroad.
The church denied the allegation.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards tithing records as sacred and keeps them confidential,” church spokesman Doug Andersen said.
The complaint said Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings told Operation Underground Railroad attorneys that President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or other church authorities had provided the tithing records to help Tim Ballard raise money. (The two men are not related.)
“President Ballard has never released tithing records to Operation Underground Railroad or any other organization,” the church spokesman said.
Church policy prohibits the release of tithing records, according to the church’s General Handbook.
“The amount of tithing and other offerings paid by a donor is confidential,” according to the policy guide for church leaders and members. “Only the bishop and those who are authorized to handle or view these contributions should have access to this information.”
The handbook states that when it comes to financial or membership records, “leaders and clerks are to safeguard church records by handling, storing and disposing of them in a way that protects the privacy of individuals.”
It adds, “Leaders ensure that such data is not used for personal, political or commercial purposes.”
The five Utah women filed the lawsuit last month against Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad alleging sexual assault, fraud and emotional abuse.
Tim Ballard has denied the allegations.
Ballard is no longer a part of Operation Underground Railroad. He left the organization after an internal investigation into his activities. He became a senior adviser to the Spear Fund, which “collaborates with and funds anti-trafficking organizations,” according to its website. The Spear Fund was also named in the lawsuit by the five women.