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Criminal Child Kidnapping Charges Leveled Against ‘Sound of Freedom’ Donor Fabian Marta

Criminal Child Kidnapping Charges Leveled Against 'sound of Freedom' Donor Fabian Marta

Sound of Freedom, directed by Alejandro Monteverde, has been a financial and critical success since its premiere on July 3. It has grossed over $155 million in the domestic box office. It’s still going on a month later.

Tim Ballard, the real-life inspiration for the film, resigned from his position as executive director of the anti-trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad “after an internal investigation into claims made against him by multiple employees—something which OUR does not dispute,” a Vice report stated. His departure has not been widely reported on yet.

The recent arrest of Fabian Marta, who boasted about helping financing the movie after Disney shelved it, is the latest incident concerning this film and the people who helped bring it to the public that makes you say “hmmmm.” Marta was charged with the felony of kidnapping a child on July 21, according to the website for the Missouri Courts.

The tweet below verifies the news:

Newsweek published Marta’s mugshot and said that he was arrested on July 23. According to the Missouri Revisor of Statutes, Marta is guilty of kidnapping because she “removed a child under the age of fourteen without consent of the child’s parents or guardian, or confined such child for a substantial period of time without such consent.” Marta is not a relative of the child within the third degree.

In truth, hardly a single detail is unexpected. Freedom takes blatant narrative shortcuts in service of creating a polished hero story for Ballard, who is able to sneak into and out of potentially dangerous situations in Colombia, rescuing children who have been trafficked, with relative ease and for the purpose of glory. Of course, the reality is more nuanced than that.

Ballard’s tendency to pose for the cameras, claims that his former organization doesn’t follow up with those they’ve rescued, conflating sex work and trafficking, and OUR’s refusal to address the systemic problems that sustain the industry have all been cited as sources of criticism.

Here’s where you can find the latest California news and in-depth analysis:

Some of Freedom’s assertions, such as “Human trafficking is a $150 billion business,” have been widely shared on TikTok, and in response I have only one question: show me the money.

Writing about the film led me to a 2021 Slate article by Meg Conley, in which she describes going on a “jump” (trafficking rescue mission) with Ballard and his old group in the Dominican Republic. Conley details the dangers she faced, the sloppiness of the expedition, and, most upsetting of all, what happened to the children whose alleged rescue was documented on camera by OUR:

The tidy little narrative presented onscreen is only part of the story. When information on Ballard’s rumored departure from OUR finally becomes public, it will undoubtedly be fascinating. Most people who claim to be heroes and who aren’t actually wearing capes aren’t heroes.

If you want to know what’s going on in the Golden State, the California Examiner is your best bet.

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