RZIM apologises after investigation finds Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, including rape

Ravi Zacharias(Photo: RZIM)

Ravi Zacharias engaged in "sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape", an independent investigation has concluded. 

The findings were released by RZIM, the ministry founded by the late apologist, alongside an apology that spoke of "a deep need for corporate repentance". 

The report is six months in the making and was conducted by law firm Miller & Martin. It is based on interviews with more than a dozen massage therapists who worked at a day spa formerly co-owned by Zacharias in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Four of the therapists said that Zacharias masturbated during treatment sessions or asked them to touch his genitals. Five said he had "touched or rubbed them inappropriately."

One therapist said she had sexual intercourse with Zacharias, while another detailed "many encounters over a period of years that she described as rape."

The woman said that Zacharias had become like a "father figure" to her and provided financial support but also warned her not to speak about their interactions because "she would be responsible for the 'millions of souls' whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged."

Investigators said similar accounts had been shared by therapists "who would not have known each other" and who treated Zacharias "in different contexts over time." 

A review of Zacharias' electronic devices uncovered explict photos of women, and romantic texts and emails with women who were not his wife. 

The RZIM board said it was "shattered", "shocked" and "grieved" by the actions of Zacharias, who died last year from cancer before the investigation. 

"We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation," it said. 

"Tragically, witnesses described encounters including sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape. We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse."

It continues: "It must have been deeply painful for the victims of Ravi's abuse and misconduct to tell their stories and to relive their terrible experiences as they participated in this investigation.

"To you we say directly: Words cannot come close to expressing the sorrow that we feel for what you have been through or the gratitude we feel for the bravery with which you have responded. We are so thankful to you, and we are so sorry." 

The statement includes an apology to Lori Anne Thompson, a Canadian woman who in 2017 said Zacharias had engaged in an inappropriate online relationship with her. 

"We were wrong. Our trust in Ravi's denial of moral wrongdoing and in his deceptive explanations of emails and other records that became public was severely misplaced, and our failures in 2017, including our failure to commission an independent investigation at that time, allowed tremendous pain to continue to be caused in the Thompsons' lives," the board said.

"We believe Lori Anne Thompson has told the truth about the nature of her relationship with Ravi Zacharias. It is with profound grief that we recognize that because we did not believe the Thompsons and both privately and publicly perpetuated a false narrative, they were slandered for years and their suffering was greatly prolonged and intensified. This leaves us heartbroken and ashamed.

"We are deeply grateful for their longstanding commitment to making the truth known and admire their strength to carry on even when they were not believed.

"It is our hope to seek a redemptive way forward with Mrs. and Mr. Thompson and seek their forgiveness, while recognizing that we have no right to this and wanting to be led by them in terms of what might be most helpful." 

RZIM is to now embark on a sweeping review of its structures, culture and policies to identify failings and address them so that they are not repeated. 

Victim advocate Rachael Denhollander will advise the board and liase with survivors. Consulting firm Guidepost Solutions is to conduct the corporate review and also offer further avenues for survivors and witnesses to come forward. 

Survivors or their legal counsel, advocate, or representative may reach out to Denhollander confidentially at [email protected]