RZIM launches investigation into Ravi Zacharias sexual harassment claims

Ravi Zacharias with his wife Margie. Allegations of sexual impropriety have resurfaced since his death on 21 May 2020.(Photo: RZIM)

An independent investigation has been launched into claims that late apologist Ravi Zacharias sexually harassed massage therapists who worked at two spas he co-owned.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) said in a statement that it has commenced an independent external investigation "to look into this matter to the fullest extent we are able".

In the statement, RZIM distances itself from the allegations.

"We, the family and ministry teammates of the late Ravi Zacharias, can say the allegations now being made against Ravi do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades—we believe them to be false," it states.

"These allegations pertain to businesses that were closed nearly a decade ago.

"These allegations were never made during Ravi's lifetime, but were first presented to a third party more than three months after his death."

It then says that no further comment will be made until the investigation's findings are presented to RZIM's executive board.

The statement adds: "We at RZIM remain committed to truth; it is the foundation of what we do and that has not changed."

It was issued in response to a report this week in US magazine Christianity Today - no affiliation to ChristianToday.com - which cites the accounts of three women who worked at the spas.

The women claim that Zacharias frequented the Atlanta-based spas for massages and skincare treatments several times a week when not travelling with his ministry.

They allege that he made inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances while alone with them in the treatment rooms that included touching them, exposing himself to them and masturbating in front of them. One therapist said he asked her for sex and elicit photos of herself.

Christianity Today's report comes days after investigative reporter Julie Roys released emails and testimonies on her website The Roys Report relating to Lori Anne Thompson, a Canadian woman who settled a lawsuit with Zacharias in 2017 after he accused her and her husband of extortion over explicit photos she sent to him.

Zacharias claimed at the time that Thompson sent the photos to him unsolicited and that he was the victim of an extortion attempt, but the reports from Julie Roys accuse the apologist of being the initiator. 

Responding to the allegations in The Roys Report, RZIM said in a statement to The Christian Post that Zacharias had stood by his 2017 denial of Thompson's claims until his death this year from cancer, and that this "denial is consistent with the character of the man we knew and worked alongside for years".

The statement added: "There is no evidence that he solicited photos of her—an allegation Ravi vehemently denied in his public statement in December 2017. Furthermore, no evidence to the contrary has ever been presented."