Image Source: https://www.upworthy.com/
Tim Ballard isn’t a child sex tourist, but he knows exactly how to act like one.
It’s a strange, disturbing expertise to possess, but during his years as a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, that’s what Tim Ballard was trained for. He learned how to infiltrate child trafficking organizations, arrest and prosecute the enslavers, and rescue innocent children from their twisted, wicked grasp. But first he had to create a convincing cover posing as a pedophile.
It’s a job we can all agree is vital and heroic. But it’s also one very few of us would sign up for.
In fact, Ballard himself refused it initially. He was working for DHS at the border in the mid-2000s when a superior asked if he’d help launch a Child Crimes Unit. Ballard had six children and didn’t think he could stomach seeing kids being used and abused in heinous ways. His wife Katherine agreed, worrying about what darkness might creep into their lives.
But the next morning Katherine came to Ballard in tears. “We’re making the wrong decision,” she said. “The reason we think we shouldn’t do this is actually the reason we should.”
So Ballard, a man of faith, a doting husband, and a dedicated father of six, agreed to descend into the horrific—and mind-blowingly huge—child sex industry to rescue as many children from it as he could.
Whatever you imagine Ballard has seen, the reality is probably far, far worse.
Diving into the darkest side of humanity isn’t easy. “We started working these cases,” Ballard says, “and they were 1000 times worse than my mind could have conjured up . . . people call it child pornography, but I can’t call it that. It’s child rape videos, and it’s just devastating.”
He wasn’t the only agent who struggled to wrap his mind and heart around this kind of work.