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Last month, Blaze News published a report that took a deep dive into allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at Tim Ballard, the former federal agent who founded Operation Underground Railroad a decade ago with the expressed goal of rescuing victims of human trafficking. Now, Blaze News has examined another former OUR employee who has played a significant role in Ballard's life and in many OUR operations: Janet Russon, a woman who purports to commune with spirits.
Based on the information Blaze News has received from eight former OUR associates, Russon has had undue influence on Ballard, and therefore on OUR operations, for many years, perhaps even a decade or more. These witnesses uniformly told us that Ballard speaks to Russon almost daily, sometimes even multiple times per day. One individual guessed that during some busy periods, Russon worked nearly 80 hours a week providing psychic intel to Ballard. Another joked that Ballard never uses the bathroom without consulting her first.
These former OUR associates have spoken to Blaze News about Russon on the condition of anonymity. In some cases, they fear violating a nondisclosure agreement. Others are concerned about their own safety or possible community or professional fallout from their ties with Ballard and/or his allies.
To establish the extent of Russon's impact on Ballard's life and OUR's work, Blaze News here attempts to lay out a rather complicated story, grounded in the tragic kidnapping of a young boy, that involves Russon's supposed paranormal sight, thousands of man-hours, millions of dollars in resources, and even alleged sexual grooming and spiritual manipulation. It is so full of intrigue that members of Ballard's inner circle have recently contacted Blaze Media management and even family members of key Blaze employees to try to shut this story down, efforts that ultimately were in vain.
A 'very sheltered-looking, soccer mom-ish woman from Utah': Who is Janet Russon?
By all accounts, Janet Russon, 60, appears to be an unassuming wife, mother, and faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One former OUR associate who went on an operation with Russon once described her as a "very sheltered-looking, soccer mom-ish woman from Utah," a description that matches those given by many sources who spoke with Blaze News.
Russon, a Connecticut native who has lived in Utah for some time, also appears to have a passion for helping orphaned children find adoptive homes. According to a biography of Russon posted on an old version of a website for an adoption-related nonprofit where Russon once served on the board of directors, Russon and her husband have nine children, seven of whom are adopted.
Screenshot of an old version of the nonprofit's website, via Wayback Machine
Russon's information was removed from that website sometime after June 10 of this year, though whether she still remains involved with the nonprofit is unclear. In response to a request for comment, the nonprofit — which Blaze News is not naming at its request — said: "Janet’s involvement as a board member was because of her personal experience as an adoptive mother of seven children. She is no longer a member of our board."
Russon assisted with adoption-related work at OUR for a couple of years as well. She left that organization shortly after Ballard did last summer.
'Either wrong or irrelevant': Russon and the work of 'remote viewing'
It is unclear exactly when Russon met Tim Ballard, though one person guessed to Blaze News that their introduction could have occurred as far back as 2007. What is clear is that, whenever they met, Ballard quickly became fascinated by Russon's purported ability to commune with spirits and began consulting her about early rescue missions by 2013. On the rare occasions on which Ballard discussed her ability with colleagues at OUR, he referred to it as "remote viewing," perhaps because of his background as a federal agent.
During the 1970s, the CIA and other agencies began exploring the possible benefits of remote viewing in federal investigations. The idea then fell out of favor before resurging in the 1990s, just a few years before Ballard became an agent. An official CIA study of remote viewing, published in 1995, ultimately concluded that its value for intelligence agencies "cannot be readily discerned" and likely introduced too many complications to make remote viewers' intel worthwhile.
"Normally, much of the data provided by the RV[s] is either wrong or irrelevant although one cannot always tell which is which without further investigation," the study said.
In response to Blaze News' request for answers regarding her work and her relationship with Ballard, Russon never denied being a psychic or communicating with spirits. In fact, her email sidestepped all questions regarding her supposed paranormal powers entirely, implying that answers to such questions would not "benefit" Blaze News' "audience." She then offered an alternative list of "more important topics" for possible discussion without providing further comment on any of them. Her list of suggested topics has been included here in full:
-anti human trafficking of minors-the US border crisis-new legislation to improve border policy
-prevention of trafficking through adoption-the crisis of children who "age out" of the opportunity to be adopted both domestically and internationally
-the need to form and maintain alliances and cooperative relationships with other anti human trafficking organizations worldwide
-Foster Care in the US and other countries
Russon did not reply to Blaze News' follow-up email asking for further information about her psychic work.
'The search that inspired a movement': The kidnapping of Gardy Mardy
Ballard, who spent more than a decade as a Department of Homeland Security special agent after a brief stint in the CIA, appears to have trusted Russon's abilities implicitly. Whenever someone expressed skepticism about Russon, Ballard would insist that her abilities had helped solve a murder case for a California police department years earlier, multiple former OUR associates told Blaze News, though the details of that case are unclear. In fact, Ballard had such a high regard for Russon's paranormal insights that he began relying on her to guide some of his OUR missions, especially those in search of Gardy Mardy.
In December 2009, Gardy Mardy, a 3-year-old boy who was born in Utah, was tragically kidnapped from the LDS church in Haiti where his father, Guesno Mardy, served as bishop at the time. Though Guesno and others identified possible suspects in the case almost immediately, sadly, no evidence ever surfaced that suggested that Gardy was still alive or, if he was, where he might be found.
The story took yet another tragic turn a few weeks later, when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing hundreds of thousands. Among the dead were Guesno Mardy's mother, Illienne Borgelin, and his sister, brother-in-law, and dear friend. The catastrophe also consumed the attention of Haitian law enforcement and overshadowed missing persons cases, such as the one involving Gardy.
Tim Ballard first learned about Guesno's desperate search for Gardy shortly after the earthquake, when Ballard was still a federal agent, an OUR blog post from 2020 said. Despite the low likelihood that Gardy could be found, even with significant resources and manpower, Ballard claimed he couldn't get Guesno's despondent face out of his mind and immediately determined to do whatever he could to find Gardy. Ballard's boss at the federal agency eventually asked him to drop the investigation, the blog post stated, but Ballard decided to leave the agency rather than abandon Gardy's case.
"If I stayed in my government position, my promise to Guesno was empty," Ballard said, according to the blog post. "In 2013, Operation Underground Railroad was born and we headed straight for Haiti."
Unfortunately, that first OUR mission designed to locate Gardy, Operation VooDoo Doll, failed in its initial objective — as has every Gardy-oriented mission since. OUR claimed that Operation VooDoo Doll successfully rescued 28 kids from trafficking — a number that multiple Blaze News sources seriously doubt — but Gardy was not found, and his whereabouts, if he is still alive, remain unknown.
Though Gardy's case appears bleak, Ballard has frequently used the story of Gardy — and Guesno's desperate desire to find him — to raise funds for OUR. Many videos and other promotions featuring Ballard describe Gardy's story as "the search that inspired the movement."
OUR's lavish fundraisers, where Ballard often recounted Gardy's story, eventually caught the attention of Davis County District Attorney Troy Rawlings. For three or four years, Rawlings investigated Ballard and OUR's business and fundraising practices, though he announced earlier this year that he had closed the investigation without filing charges. Some of the sealed documents from that investigation were given to Blaze News by a source affiliated with it.
According to these documents, Ballard and OUR raised nearly $200,000 at one notable OUR gala fundraiser that promoted Gardy's case, among other stories. During this gala, which occurred on an unknown date but which was summarized and documented by an investigator in November 2022, Ballard told attendees not only about the heartbreaking story of Gardy Mardy but about the apparent selflessness of Guesno Mardy, whom Ballard called the "godfather" of the OUR organization.
"If I have to give up my son so that these [other children] could be rescued," Ballard recalled Guesno once saying, "then that's the sacrifice I'm willing to make." Guesno "recognized," Ballard said, that if not for his lost son, OUR would not exist and the kids rescued by OUR would still be in bondage.
"We have looked for Gardy, we have not given up," Ballard continued, according to the documents.
"And we will never, ever give up."
'He's here buddy': Russon's readings and the endless search for Gardy Mardy
Strictly speaking, Ballard appears to have kept his promise to Guesno. Since its inception in 2013, OUR has conducted at least a dozen missions, likely more, in the hope of finding Gardy and spent perhaps tens of millions of dollars in those efforts, according to the estimates of a former OUR associate familiar with the case. And yet "100%" of OUR's intelligence about Gardy Mardy and his possible whereabouts has come from Janet Russon's psychic visions, multiple former OUR operatives with extensive military training told Blaze News.
Ballard relied so heavily on Russon's input that he brought her along on at least one of the early Gardy missions and followed her every instruction, even down to the direction he was to drive his vehicle. "This woman, Janet, starts telling Tim ... where to turn, where to go," a source who was in the truck with Russon and Ballard at the time recalled to Blaze News with bewilderment.
When another former OUR associate asked Ballard in 2018 for all the actionable intelligence OUR had regarding Gardy Mardy, all Ballard had to give him was a stack of Russon's "readings," the source said. Blaze News has received a copy of more than 15 readings from Russon that relate to the search for Gardy Mardy, likely written between 2014 and 2018. According to these readings, Russon believed that Gardy was being held hostage with other children in a location somewhere in a mountainous area of the Forêt des Pins along Haiti's southeastern border with the Dominican Republic.
These readings have a certain logic and organization to them. They attempt to describe, often in minute detail, Gardy's current location, his captors or other villains, and landmarks or other noteworthy objects that might signal to OUR team members that they are on the right track. The readings also make several references to the Bible and the Book of Mormon, likely to fortify the resolve of those looking for Gardy.
Many sections read like the transcript of a phone call, as Russon asks spirits questions, sometimes for clarification, other times for encouragement. "How do we find [Gardy]?" Russon asks in one reading.
"Follow the roads that lead from Marigot to Thiotte — north toward Malpasse[.] 'You'll find him in the camp.' You'll find him there. At his 'home' This is where he calls home," comes the apparent reply. It is unclear whether the entire response is a direct quote or just the words and phrases Russon puts in quotation marks.
Screenshot of reading shared with Blaze News
At other times, Russon seems to converse with the spirit of Gardy himself. "I heard him say: 'at 1 am I go pee'. Where will you be tomorrow at 6 am? Sleeping in my bed," reads one of their exchanges, according to "Gardy Reading #11 Clues."
Screenshot of reading shared with Blaze News
Another time, Russon writes in bold that she'd heard Gardy say, "Just go to the camp. See you at the camp. I'll be there." Whether ops team members ever reached a camp is unclear, but if they did, they did not find Gardy there.
According to Russon's readings, while in captivity, Gardy experiences natural emotional swings. In one reading, he prays fervently for rescue. In another, he has tired of being held hostage and worries that people have given up on ever finding him. In yet another reading, Russon cautions that, upon being found, Gardy will likely manifest symptoms of Stockholm syndrome — a condition in which kidnapping victims develop a fierce attachment and loyalty to their kidnappers — and initially refuse to cooperate with his rescuers.
Screenshot of reading shared with Blaze News
In many readings, Russon also communes with the spirit of Gardy's deceased relatives, especially Illienne Borgelin, Gardy's paternal grandmother and the mother of Guesno. Illienne, spelled with one L in some readings, died in the deadly earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, just a few weeks after Gardy was kidnapped. During one reading, Russon, channeling Illienne's spirit, appears to experience for herself Illienne's supposed final moments:
Big piece of ruble that fell, crumbled, almost immediately. I felt tight stomach and sharp, quick pain in (my) left side of abdomen. Something poking in from outside/external pain, not internal injury. She didn't die from impact. She didn't pass away or cross over from the collapse. It wasn't instant/sudden death but she knew — at the moment of the earthquake — she knew (intuitively) that it was over for her. Her time.
Screenshot of reading shared with Blaze News
"She may have hovered but she never waivered [sic]," Russon wrote in another reading about Illienne. "It was ... her time to go. 'I was getting old' she says."
Yet another reading with Illienne features a detail that — when read with the knowledge that Gardy remains missing and that OUR has been raising sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time off of Gardy's story — is quite unsettling. At the prompting of Illienne's spirit, Russon advises Guesno Mardy to sell the jewelry that once belonged to his late mother to help fund "Gardy missions." "It is all 'for the children,'" Russon writes.
Throughout these readings, Russon remains unfailingly optimistic about finding Gardy safe and sound. In one reading, Russon claims to "hear" the following message: "''Either this (reading) will find the boy or lead to an area where there are people who know who he is or where or who has seen him or had him with them."
In the "Feelings" section of another reading, she states confidently: "It's going to work. It's going to happen now."
Screenshot of readings shared with Blaze News
And Ballard appears to have been assured by Russon's repeated senses of looming victory. During the same OUR mission in which Russon directed Ballard in the truck, Ballard promised Guesno Mardy, who had also joined the mission, that they were on the cusp of finding Gardy and bringing him home.
"Guesno, he's here buddy, we're gonna get him, we are gonna get him," Ballard said after a hopeful prediction from Russon, according to a transcript of a video taken during the mission. The transcript was included in Rawlings' sealed documents shared with Blaze News.
Screenshot of documents shared with Blaze News
At present, the search for Gardy, who would now be 16 or 17 years old, seems to have petered out almost entirely, though an OUR blog post from August still insisted that "O.U.R. refuses to give up on the search for Gardy." But as far back as December 2020, a source indicated to a Davis County investigator that "there is not a single person looking for Gardy any more. Tim just uses the storyline to keep things going and obtain funding from donors. ... Guesno knows OUR is using him and the story for donations," according to a summary of the interview.
Another former OUR operative still strongly supports OUR's overall mission and offered a countervailing view of the organization's work in Haiti. "The OUR team I worked with in Haiti was always very sincere and effective," the operative told Blaze News. "There wasn't a wasted day trying to help victims of trafficking or taking some action to help improve that country."
Screenshot of YouTube video (Pictured: Gardy Mardy)
'Mediums, astrologers, fortune tellers, and sorcerers are inspired by Satan': Controversy surrounding Russon's readings
Russon's readings have never led to the recovery of Gardy Mardy, and the former OUR associates who spoke with Blaze News expressed a wide range of opinions about the efficacy of Russon's psychic powers and about psychics in general.
Multiple former OUR associates who spoke with Blaze News indicated that Russon and her readings yielded some positive results for OUR. One source claimed to have met a victim rescued during a mission in which Russon was directly involved.
Another source who went on at least one mission to Haiti with Russon claimed that Russon provided several important insights for OUR team members as they ventured out into the field. For example, during that mission, operators found a water source deep within the Haitian forest, just as Russon had envisioned, even though this water source did not appear on any map or aerial surveillance. She also accurately predicted that operators would encounter a man in a purple shirt and a cowboy hat as well as a person of authority wearing a red shirt, the source told Blaze News. A few of the readings seen by Blaze News seem to make reference to some of those details.
Composite screenshot of readings shared with Blaze News
Others who spoke with Blaze News about Russon are less hopeful about her paranormal sight. Some in this group believe that Russon may be "sensitive" to those in another realm or dimension but worry that such a sensitivity might easily be misapplied or exploited. A couple of them expressed strong personal or religious objections to paranormal sight and psychic readings in general.
Even though many of her predictions have not come true, Russon has been promoting her supposed gift for years, and Blaze News has been deeply interested to learn how her psychic process works. According to the former OUR associates who either received a reading from Russon or witnessed her conducting one, Russon supposedly speaks to spirits in a way reminiscent of Whoopi Goldberg's character, Oda Mae Brown, in the 1990 hit movie "Ghost." She then shares her communications with those spirits in real time or writes them down quickly in a notebook. These handwritten readings are sometimes typed up neatly, as in the case of the Gardy readings. She also frequently records herself reading what she has written down, as many sources and the sealed documents from DA Rawlings' case all attested.
The spirits she contacts are often deceased loved ones, such as a parent or spouse, of a person seeking her services but can also include famous people, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. One source even witnessed Russon review a reading she had done about Vladimir Putin at Ballard's behest and was so disturbed by the experience that the witness snapped a photo of it. Blaze News is not sharing details of when and where the photo was taken to protect the source from possible identification.
Photo shared with Blaze News (used with permission)
Some news articles, court documents — including the two sexual assault lawsuits recently filed against Ballard — and DA Rawlings' sealed documents have all stated that, in connection with her readings about Ballard's private life, Russon communes with a prophet named Nephi who, according to the Book of Mormon, lived around 600 B.C. However, those reports are incorrect. Multiple sources have informed Blaze News that the Nephi in question is actually Ballard's great-great-grandfather Nephi Anderson.
Some of these sources also suggested that Ballard has never publicly corrected the record regarding Nephi's true identity because doing so would confirm his work with Russon, work that seems to violate LDS teaching regarding the gift of prophecy and the occult.
"Satan wants to blind us to the truth and keep us from seeking the true gifts of the Spirit. Mediums, astrologers, fortune tellers, and sorcerers are inspired by Satan even if they claim to follow God. Their works are abominable to the Lord (see Isaiah 47:12–14; Deuteronomy 18:9–10)," says a Mormon text called " Gospel Principles."
For years, Ballard has publicly professed his membership in the LDS church, and on September 18, with reports swirling about possible sexual misconduct, Ballard issued a statement claiming himself to be "a faithful Member in good standing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." These professions of faith notwithstanding, reports now say that Ballard has been formally excommunicated, presumably because of accusations of marital infidelity and sexual misconduct. A spokesperson for the LDS church declined to comment on the validity of those reports.
There is no indication that an excommunication inquiry has been opened into Russon. However, multiple sources told Blaze News that her work as a medium could put her in danger of excommunication. The LDS spokesperson told Blaze News that the church discourages consulting mediums and indicated that under certain circumstances, a person known to have dabbled in psychic work might lose membership in the church. However, the spokesperson stressed that the church does not comment on individual membership, which is determined by local leaders.
Finally, Blaze News has learned that Russon is not the only self-proclaimed psychic whom Ballard has consulted. He has also sought psychic services from at least one other woman identified only as Lori. Whether Lori is a member of the LDS church and whether she or Russon remain in contact with Ballard to this day are unclear.
'I get chills thinking about that moment': Janet Russon joins OUR
Among those who worked closely with Tim Ballard, Russon's psychic readings seemed to be an open secret. Most of these readings related to Ballard personally, with those relating to OUR missions representing just a tiny fraction of Russon's psychic work for Ballard. However, these OUR-related readings significantly impacted OUR business operations, especially since Russon received payment for her psychic services, even as donors were kept in the dark about the nature of her work.
OUR has ignored repeated requests from Blaze News for answers regarding Russon, so we have had a difficult time piecing together exactly how and how much Russon was paid for performing psychic services. It appears that in the beginning of their relationship, Russon charged Ballard a few hundred dollars for each reading she gave, and since she gave him a reading nearly every day, the cost of Russon's psychic services would have added up quickly.
An investigator wrote in a report given to DA Rawlings his own understanding of Russon's pay structure. "I learned through the investigation that Janet was being paid as a consultant," the investigator wrote.
"Janet was being paid a monthly consultant fee of approximately $5,000 with an hourly/operational readings contract of approximately $1,560."
Screenshot of documents shared with Blaze News
Blaze News cannot independently verify these findings, but one source did indicate to us that, in the early years, Russon likely made at most between $4,500 and $5,000 in months with a particularly high number of readings.
The sheer volume of psychic readings that Russon has issued over the years is staggering. An email from DA Rawlings included with the sealed documents stated that investigators had collected "somewhere around 10,000 pages of Janet Russon 'Readings' as part of the investigator case file."
At some point, OUR hired Russon and gave her a job that suggested she performed non-psychic work for the organization. Exactly when she was hired and the initial job title she was assigned remain unclear. There are even reports that for a brief time, she was actually paid by Slave Stealers, a for-profit LLC founded by Ballard that, while still technically active, seems to have faded into the background.
According to a statement from OUR included at the end of this section, in 2021, Russon was named the executive director of Children Need Families, then an OUR subgroup co-founded by Ballard's wife, Katherine Ballard, that focused on providing prospective adoptive families with financial assistance. It is unclear what experience Russon may have had that would have qualified her to act as executive director of a nonprofit organization.
But even as she performed legitimate work for Children Need Families, Russon continued to provide Tim Ballard, and therefore OUR, with psychic readings — but now that she had been onboarded as a full-time employee and had begun receiving a salary, Ballard no longer needed to pay her by the reading. One source told Blaze News that Ballard took advantage of this shift in the financial arrangements and demanded ever more readings from Russon, even as her CNF salary remained relatively stable, based on the OUR statement.
But Ballard seems to have been very circumspect about revealing Russon's true role with OUR. Ballard referred to Russon as OUR's most "guarded" secret, one source said, and regularly threatened to sue any employee or consultant who discussed her psychic work publicly.
Russon had no office at OUR facilities and only rarely made an appearance at them, sources told us. Many of the office staff recognized Russon whenever she did stop by but had little understanding of what she actually did. Since its founding in 2013, none of OUR's publicly available IRS 990 tax forms has ever listed Russon among its "Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors."
And Russon's psychic work, which always seems to have portended good fortune for Ballard, apparently emboldened Ballard to indulge even his most sordid ideas and whims. According to several reports, Russon helped identify women who ought to play the part of Ballard's fake girlfriend on international OUR operations, a controversial tactic that Ballard dubbed the "couples ruse." Two separate lawsuits filed against Ballard (linked here and here) allege that Ballard engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with OUR couples ruses, and both of those lawsuits named Russon as a co-defendant.
Russon's interference in the couples ruse allegedly didn't end there. According to the lawsuits, she also learned through her psychic powers that Ballard had been married to some of his couples ruse partners in previous lives. Armed with this supposed knowledge from Russon, Ballard would then suggest to these women that, because they had been married in a previous life, sexual contact between them would be "appropriate" and not extramarital, the lawsuits stated.
The estranged husband of one of Ballard's accusers, identified in the second lawsuit only as FT, referred to Russon as "Tim's enabler." FT also recalled in the lawsuit that when Russon was first introduced to his wife, identified in the lawsuit as AA, Russon hinted that Ballard would likely select AA for future couples ruses: "After some brief conversation, [Russon] looked AA up and down and said, 'I have a feeling I'll be working with you a lot in the future.'"
"Now looking back, I get chills thinking about that moment," FT added.
Screenshot of lawsuit filed against Ballard, Russon, OUR, and others
Ballard left OUR last June after an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct in connection with the couples ruse. Russon left OUR shortly thereafter. After her departure, OUR issued the following statement:
Janet Russon worked as a full-time executive director for the Children Need Families program for the last two years with a starting salary of $122,000 per year and a final salary of $125,000 per year. She left O.U.R. shortly after Mr. Ballard’s departure. None of her work with CNF had any association with her self-proclaimed psychic abilities. For any question about her alleged psychic abilities, services rendered to Mr. Ballard, or payments for those services, please ask Ms. Russon or Mr. Ballard.
'Donors are not made aware': What did OUR leaders know, and when did they know it?
At least some members of OUR leadership, especially those on the board, likely knew about Russon's psychic work for Ballard from the beginning, sources indicated to Blaze News. There is even evidence that a reading from Russon affected the makeup of OUR's executive team.
Blaze News has received a recording, just over eight minutes long, of one of Russon's readings in Russon's voice. It is believed that this reading was recorded in May 2020. At that point in time, Ballard was no longer CEO of OUR, a title he held from 2015 to 2017. During this reading, Russon asks Nephi, ostensibly Ballard's great-great-grandfather, whether Ballard is destined to become CEO once again.
"Becoming CEO at this point was always the plan," Russon says, apparently on behalf of Nephi and other spirits, "and because you followed the plan almost perfectly, perfectly enough, you are able to step in without tripping. It is right because we say it is. You were always meant to be at the helm of OUR."
"Your name and your oversight at the top of the pyramid will, at this time and going forward, not only restore an off-kilter organizational chart," Russon's voice continues a few minutes later, "but will be the ... additional critical component to upgrade and power up OUR for Phase 2."
At one point, Russon even makes reference to "a coup," though the details of that "coup" and OUR's "Phase 2" remain unclear. Toward the end of the reading, Russon receives instruction about how OUR leadership ought to be structured and mentions a flowchart she has drawn to illustrate it, though Blaze News has never seen a copy of this flowchart.
Elsewhere in the reading, Russon claims that Ballard is "always accompanied by angels" and advises him to consider consulting "a seer stone," which she then defines as "a personal revelatory device."
Blaze News has reason to believe that DA Rawlings has a copy of this recording or a recording on the same topic. In a February 2023 email included in the sealed documents, Rawlings called the OUR executive structure laid out in the recording "fascinating," perhaps because Ballard had become CEO once again by 2022.
Others, such as "Jerry" and "Tevya" — believed to be Jerry Gowen and Tevya Ware — who Russon predicts in the reading will soon endure "a loving course correct," also appear to have undergone a job change as well. Gowen went from CEO in 2019 to another kind of CEO, chief experience officer, a year later, though his salary continued to increase.
Ware, Ballard's sister-in-law, was vice president of OUR finances from 2015 to 2017 and CFO from 2018 to 2020. By 2021, she likely left the company, as she no longer appeared on OUR tax forms at that point. Whether she did so of her own accord is unclear.
It is also not clear whether these changes were made because of pressure from Ballard, but it is clear that Ballard wanted assurance from Russon and the spirits that he would regain stature at OUR. Several sources told Blaze News that Ballard used Russon as a kind of crystal ball so that he could have a sense of certainty about his future, including at OUR.
Most OUR leaders, especially those on the board, likely knew about Russon's psychic contributions to its business practices, multiple sources told Blaze News, but if any of them had misgivings about Russon or her paranormal intel, they kept their thoughts to themselves. Ballard would have gotten them fired if they hadn't, the sources said.
They also never shared this information publicly, according to Davis County District Attorney Rawlings. "Donors are not made aware that Nephi, via [Ms.] Russon, is the key piece of O.U.R. Operational intelligence," Rawlings wrote in an email included in the sealed documents shared with Blaze News.
Most individual donors may not have known about Russon's influence at OUR, but at least one major corporate donor got wind of it — and immediately voiced its disapproval. Essential oils developer doTerra, based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, was once a "major donor" to OUR, one source told Blaze News, but became concerned about OUR after hearing several disturbing reports about the organization, including the reports about psychic influence.
Ballard attempted to quell doTerra's concerns by explaining that even federal agencies have utilized remote viewers, a report in the sealed documents said, but doTerra eventually elected to withdraw its financial support from OUR anyway.
In response to a request for comment, doTerra sent Blaze News the following statement: "dōTERRA® and the dōTERRA Healing Hands Foundation® do not partner with OUR or support any active project with Tim Ballard or his affiliated organizations. Instead, dōTERRA Healing Hands launched the HOPE Action Plan in 2020 to fight human trafficking and victimization through prevention, responsible rescue, and trauma-informed restorative care."
OUR did not respond to Blaze News' repeated requests for comment.
'A special priesthood blessing': Tim Ballard allegedly exploits his relationship with Elder Ballard
Many readers might wonder why those at OUR, many of whom are Mormon, allowed Ballard to incorporate so much of Russon's psychic work into OUR operations and why some of the women involved in couples ruses accepted his seemingly wild tales about reincarnation and previous marriages. The short answer is that they likely would not have tolerated any of it but for Ballard's penchant for dropping the name of his late former friend, M. Russell Ballard, otherwise known as Elder Ballard.
Until last week, Elder Ballard, who was not related to Tim but who once considered him a friend, was the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS church. As the authority of members of the quorum stands second only to the authority of the church president, Elder Ballard's name carried significant weight with members of the LDS community until his death last Sunday at the age of 95.
Before Elder Ballard's death, Tim Ballard repeatedly indicated to others that Elder Ballard had approved the couples ruse, so long as no kissing on the lips or sexual intercourse was involved, and had even given Tim "a special priesthood blessing" for it, both aforementioned lawsuits regarding alleged sexual misconduct claimed. Three plaintiffs in one lawsuit likewise mentioned in their personal statements that Tim Ballard had told them that Elder Ballard had "sanctioned" the couples ruse.
Tim Ballard insisted that Elder Ballard had sanctioned Russon's readings as well, multiple sources told Blaze News, though none had ever heard Elder Ballard himself confirm his blessing on psychics or the couples ruse. All that information was filtered through Tim Ballard, they said.
One woman who spoke with Blaze News indicated that the use of Elder Ballard's name in connection with unsavory practices like the couples ruse and the use of psychics is a strategic component of Tim Ballard's methods of persuasion. "He knows most church members wouldn't believe or agree with him about using a psychic, so he uses Elder Ballard or apostles in general as validation for his claims," she said.
In September, just as reports about the couples ruse were beginning to circulate, Elder Ballard issued the following statement about Tim Ballard and their past friendship (emphasis added):
President Ballard and Tim Ballard (no relation) established a friendship a number of years ago. That friendship was built on a shared interest in looking after God’s children wherever they are and without regard to their circumstance. However, that relationship is in the past. For many months, President Ballard has had no contact with the founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). The nature of that relationship was always in support of vulnerable children being abused, trafficked, and otherwise neglected. Once it became clear Tim Ballard had betrayed their friendship, through the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable, President Ballard withdrew his association. President Ballard never authorized his name, or the name of the Church, to be used for Tim’s personal or financial interests.
In addition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never endorsed, supported or represented OUR, Tim Ballard or any projects associated with them.
President Ballard loves children, all over the world. It has been his mission and life’s work to look after them, care for them, and point them to their Savior.
A spokesperson for the LDS church who knew Elder Ballard well claimed that there is no evidence that Elder Ballard had any knowledge that Tim Ballard had sought psychic readings or engaged in the couples ruse until recent investigations brought those reports to light.
Tim Ballard had a substantive discussion with Blaze News regarding the accusations of sexual misconduct several weeks ago. However, he and his representatives disregarded several attempts for a follow-up conversation with us regarding psychics and remote viewing.
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.