Paul Hutchinson — an government producer on Sound of Freedom, the movie loosely primarily based on anti-trafficking professional Tim Ballard — has admitted to touching the breasts of a presumably underage trafficking sufferer throughout a 2016 sting operation in Mexico.
On the time, Hutchinson was working with Operation Underground Railroad (or OUR), the anti-trafficking group based by Ballard in 2013. Based on a VICE report, footage catching Hutchinson within the act was captured by videographers working with OUR on a documentary and subsequent TV sequence referred to as The Abolitionists. This footage was then reviewed by investigator Bryan Purdy of the Davis County Legal professional’s Workplace, who wrote detailed descriptions of it as a part of an FBI investigation into Ballard and OUR that was closed earlier this yr with none fees being introduced ahead.
Documents obtained by means of a public data request from VICE Information embody descriptions displaying that Hutchinson and OUR believed the trafficking sufferer was 16 years outdated on the time. In one other video description, Hutchinson expressed concern to Matt Osborne — now the president and chief working officer of OUR — over the chance that he might be prosecuted by Mexican authorities for his actions within the incident.
When contacted by VICE, Hutchinson didn’t push again on the investigator’s description of his actions nor did he deny touching the trafficking sufferer’s bare breasts. Nonetheless, he did declare to have a sworn affidavit from Mexican federal police saying the sufferer was over 18. Based on VICE, nevertheless, Hutchinson didn’t reply to “a number of requests” to supply the doc.
“There’s a lot to the story, a really harmful state of affairs and I’m joyful to let the world know the small print when the time is correct,” Hutchinson wrote in an e mail to VICE. “Each operator who was current stands behind me in how I reacted to the state of affairs. I’ve zero reservations as to how I dealt with myself undercover. You don’t discover trafficked youngsters within the foyer of the Ritz-Carlton. We needed to go to probably the most harmful locations on the planet to seek out the youngsters. All my undercover work was performed with integrity and honor.”
Whereas there isn’t a proof that Hutchinson was appearing in any capability past figuring out and exposing traffickers, OUR’s strategy of requesting minors throughout operations, somewhat than discovering and rescuing underage victims who had been already being trafficked, has been questioned by experts for creating conditions reminiscent of this one. In Hutchinson’s case, he posed as a “intercourse vacationer” and requested a trafficker for youthful ladies.
Learn the total VICE report here.
Hutchinson — who claims on LinkedIn to be the “first investor” in Sound of Freedom — and Ballard aren’t the one folks related to the movie to have interaction in actions at odds with its message. Fabian Marta, who additionally helped fund the film, was arrested earlier this summer season for baby kidnapping.