Reyes will launch criminal investigation into alleged sexual assault by friend Tim Ballard

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has announced that his office will launch a criminal investigation into sexual assault allegations against his longtime friend Tim Ballard and the nonprofit organization Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), which Ballard founded.

In a video published on Friday, Reyes stated that he will not seek reelection next year and will leave office after his current term is completed. His decision to not run for reelection comes after a meeting with women who have accused Ballard of sexual assault, during which Reyes stated that he believes the women and apologized to each of them.

Reyes also expressed his intention to make sure the women get the support they need and confirmed that his office will conduct a thorough investigation of Tim Ballard, Operation Underground Railroad, and The SPEAR Fund to determine any criminal conduct.

The attorney for the women who are suing Ballard, Suzette Rasmussen, has expressed gratitude for Reyes’ willingness to accept responsibility for past misjudgments and for his role in supporting Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. Rasmussen stated that this is a positive first step toward acknowledging the pain caused by Mr. Ballard, OUR, and the other entities and individuals included in their lawsuits.

Operation Underground Railroad has affirmed its cooperation with the investigation by the attorney general’s office and remains committed to its work in the fight against human trafficking.

Reyes has been under scrutiny recently due to questions about his close friendship with Ballard and his use of campaign donations on luxury travel, as well as false claims made by his charitable foundation. His announcement to not seek reelection makes him the third attorney general to leave amid a scandal in Utah.

After Reyes’ announcement, former Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown has revealed that he has formed an exploratory committee to test the waters for a potential bid for attorney general, with an exciting announcement expected in the coming weeks.

Historically, Reyes was appointed as attorney general in 2013, replacing Attorney General John Swallow, who resigned amid a series of investigations. Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, were each charged with multiple felonies, but the charges against Shurtleff were dropped and Swallow was acquitted at trial.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding Reyes, he has stated his intention to serve out the remainder of his current term, which ends in January 2025. His decision to not seek reelection has been met with mixed reactions, with some criticizing his use of campaign donations and others acknowledging his significant service to the state of Utah.

In the wake of Reyes’ announcement, the future of the attorney general’s office in Utah remains uncertain, as the landscape for the next Election begins to take shape.

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