Less than one day after an investigation of sexual misconduct into Sound Of Freedom-subject Tim Ballard was made public, another person connected to the film faces accusations of inappropriate behavior during their liberation operations. Per Vice, Sound Of Freedom executive producer Paul Hutchinson, the self-described first investor of the film, reportedly touched the bare breasts of a 16-year-old sex trafficking victim during a 2016 operation in Mexico. Hutchinson denies that the female in question was 16 but attests that he touched the victim’s breasts to prove to traffickers he was not a police officer.
Hutchinson was the subject of an investigation into his conduct with Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), the anti-trafficking group founded by Ballard. The inquest was part of a more extensive FBI examination of O.U.R.’s tactics, which federal agents tell VICE News violated best practices. Investigators with the Davis County Attorney’s Office reviewed footage of the incident caught by O.U.R. videographers and provided detailed reports of Hutchinson’s actions. No charges were filed.
In a statement to VICE, Hutchinson, like Ballard, defends his conduct as necessary for the situation. He did not deny touching the victim’s breasts, only that the Mexican federal police told him she was 18. He also says he’d be “happy to let the world know the details when the time is right.” Why the time wouldn’t be right now is still unclear.
“Every operator who was present stands behind me in how I reacted to the situation. I have zero reservations as to how I handled myself undercover,” Hutchinson said. “You don’t find trafficked children in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton. We had to go to the most dangerous places on the planet to find the children. All my undercover work was done with integrity and honor.”
O.U.R. released a statement to VICE that confirmed no charges were brought because the female was an adult, but the organization did say his actions “do not represent O.U.R.’s standard operating procedure and were inappropriate, regardless if the woman was an adult or not.”
In the video, which was to be used for a documentary series called The Abolitionists, investigators found Hutchinson asking, “I just wanna find out if I’m gonna get in big trouble from the Mexican authority for touching a sixteen-year-old on film?” They also disputed his claims that his hand was forced to touch the victim, noting, “PAUL PUTS BOTH HANDS ON VOLUNTARILY.”
This isn’t the first person associated with Sound Of Freedom to be investigated for sexual misconduct. Tim Ballard, the subject of Sound Of Freedom, a movie loosely based on his exploits with O.U.R., was accused by seven female O.U.R. employees of sexual misconduct. Another of the film’s producers was arrested for child kidnapping in July.