Famed apologist and ministry leader Ravi Zacharias died last May. While he was still alive, a sexual misconduct scandal started brewing in 2017. Lori Anne Thompson, who was involved in that online relationship with Zacharias issued a statement today on her website.
I would encourage anyone to read her statement (which is also available on video).
It’s a powerful and heartbreaking account. Mrs. Thompson talks of sexual abuse she endured as a child, meeting Ravi in 2014, and the devastating impact which her relationship to Zacharias caused to her, her husband, and her family.
Part of why this is significant is because Zacharias had her sign an NDA. Thompson talks about the agreement in her statement. When she broke off the online relationship with Ravi, Thompson alleges that Zacharias aggressively came after her with legal action, shamed her, and then coerced her into signing an NDA as legal fees mounted.
Shortly after that time, Ravi went to Christianity Today in 2017 and told his story about the incident (while Thompson was silenced by the NDA and couldn’t defend herself). Ravi’s version is that he was the victim of “unwanted, offensive, sexually explicit language and photographs.”
After Ravi’s CT interview, the story largely faded from public attention.
But after Ravi died last spring, more allegations of sexual misconduct came to light. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), founded by the late apologist and now headed by his daughter committed to investigating the claims. In December, RZIM issued a statement saying that their investigation (which has yet to be released) indicated that he had engaged with sexual misconduct (the statement did not name names, and it’s likely that they did not include Mrs. Thompson as the Zacharias Family has yet to lift the NDA).
I think about how heartbreaking Mrs. Thompson’s story is. This event shattered her life and left her with suicidal thoughts.
I think of people who still want to defend Zacharias, paint him as a sympathetic figure who can’t defend himself, talk up his ministerial accomplishments, or talk about the great man that he was. For those people, read her statement.
There is a petition still calling for Ravi’s widow to formally life the NDA.