Talk of a Mel Gibson Jeffrey Epstein documentary ignited imaginations recently when poorly sourced reports circulated that the Passion of the Christ filmmaker would soon try to blow the lid off the many remaining Epstein mysteries. But the reports are “completely false information,” a rep for Gibson told MovieMaker on Monday.
The misinformation started when Tim Ballard, the founder of an anti-trafficking nonprofit called Operation Underground Railroad, appeared to say in January that the actor had provided support for a documentary. Ballard’s January comments caught fire on social media, where people began to imagine that the purported Mel Gibson documentary would focus on Jeffrey Epstein.
Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security agent, said in the January appearance at the conservative Utah Eagle Forum in Salt Lake City that Gibson helped edit The Sound of Freedom, a movie about Ballard and his organization expected to be released this summer. The film stars The Passion of the Christ actor James Caviezel, the 2004 film that Gibson produced, directed and co-wrote. (The group’s YouTube link to the talk declares, “Mel Gibson funds RESCUE!”)
Ballard said in the appearance that he asked Gibson for money to film an anti-trafficking effort in the Ukraine that his group was taking part in. Ballard said his group was helping remove orphans from Ukraine who were at high risk of trafficking.
“He said ‘No problem,’ and he helped get us started and filming,” Ballard said. “Four months later, what I thought was maybe going to be a documentary about Ukraine ends up being a four-part docu-series that’s almost done.”
Mel Gibson Is Not Working on Any Documentary, Rep Says
But Alan Nierob, Gibson’s longtime rep, told MovieMaker that in fact Gibson is not working on any documentary, on any subject.
Ballard said in his statement Tuesday that Gibson was involved in an anti-trafficking effort by Operation Underground Railroad and two other anti-trafficking groups, but that he was not involved in the documentary.
“I stand by every word I said in the video circulating around social media. Mel is a personal hero of mine and called me back in 2022 with valuable intelligence regarding children who were rumored to be vulnerable to human traffickers in Ukraine. Using that intelligence, we went to Ukraine, where Operation Underground Railroad, Aerial Recovery Group, and The Nazarene Fund were successful in beginning the process of dismantling a dangerous international pedophile ring. “
Ballard added: “Mel deserves all the credit for taking the initiative to further the critical work that we do. I am personally grateful for his support as we worked on this documentary, however reports this four-part series is actually being produced by Mr. Gibson are not accurate. It’s being produced by Nick Nanton of DNA Films and includes several executive producers such as Kyle Cease, Tony and Sage Robbins, and other wonderful and talented people.”
The Associated Press has reported that Operation Underground Railroad is one of several groups that has made money fundraising off conspiracy theories. The AP also said the Davis County Attorney’s Office in Utah has investigated allegations that it exaggerated its role in arrests involving child predators, but closed its probe last month without filing any charges.
Ballard’s statement did not respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment on those reports.
Epstein and his long list of high-profile contacts continue to spark speculation and mystery since his August 2019 death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. He had been arrested a month earlier on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Epstein had previously pleaded guilty and been convicted in 2008 by a Florida state court of procuring a child for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute. He served less than 13 months in custody.
Epstein remains very much in the news, nearly three years after his death. On Monday, JPMorgan Chase reached a tentative settlement with his sexual abuse victims. The New York Times and other outlets reported that David Boies, one of the lead lawyers for the victims, said JP Morgan had agreed to pay $290 million to resolve the lawsuit.
The suit was filed last November in Manhattan federal court by an unidentified woman on behalf of victims who said they were sexually abused by Epstein over a period of roughly 15 years when they were teenagers and young women, the suit said.
Gibson will next be seen in the Peacock miniseries The Continental: From the World of John Wick, a spinoff of the film series based on the hotel chain in the John Wick films that provides assassins a place of respite.
Main image: Mel Gibson attends the Blood Father photocall during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.