June 23, 2024


Equality opinion

Regulation agency details sexual misconduct by world-wide ministry chief Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias, who died in May perhaps right after a substantial-profile career leading a world Christian ministry, engaged in sexual misconduct with therapeutic massage therapists and carried on a lot of amorous extramarital interactions through textual content concept and email, in accordance to a scathing, in-depth report from a law organization hired by the ministry.

Five of the therapists claimed Zacharias touched them inappropriately, and 1 reported she was raped, in accordance to the report. It mentioned investigators hunting Zacharias’ cell equipment uncovered extra than 200 pictures of younger women of all ages, including nude images of a salon employee in Malaysia.

In blunt phrases, the report by Atlanta-dependent Miller & Martin reported Zacharias had lied in claiming in 2017 that “I have hardly ever engaged in any inappropriate actions of any sort.”

Coinciding with the report’s release on Thursday, the board of administrators of Ravi Zacharias Intercontinental Ministries issued a assertion of “corporate repentance.” The board apologized for earlier statements that belittled accusers and pledged measures to aid victims, overcome abuse and harassment, and reassess the management composition, which is overseen by Zacharias’ eldest daughter, ministry CEO Sarah Davis.

“We are devastated by what the investigation has proven and are stuffed with sorrow for the women of all ages who had been damage by this terrible abuse,” the board claimed.

Zacharias, who died of cancer at the age of 74, was a extensively preferred author and speaker, with lots of famous people and outstanding Christian leaders among his admirers. Then-Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in May possibly, lauding him as a terrific evangelist “armed with intellect, girded with truth of the matter and enjoy.”

Zacharias launched his intercontinental ministry, known as RZIM, in 1984, with a mission to interact in “Christian apologetics” — defending Christianity with strong intellectual arguments. Based in suburban Atlanta, RZIM has functions in about 20 nations and a roster of scores of touring speakers.

In the latest months, the business has been plunged into crisis, precipitated by a Sept. 29 report in the evangelical publication Christianity Now. The posting asserted that about a interval of about five many years, Zacharias sexually harassed 3 girls who labored as therapeutic massage therapists at two day spas he co-owned in an Atlanta suburb.

RZIM’s leadership to begin with challenged the statements, asserting that the allegations “do not in any way comport with the guy we knew for a long time — we consider them to be bogus.”

Even so, it hired Martin & Miller in October, which in turn engaged the services of a non-public investigation business comprising former federal regulation enforcement officers. The regulation firm explained far more than 50 people, which includes additional than a dozen therapeutic massage therapists, were interviewed, and investigators ended up equipped to entry data from 4 mobile products utilized by Zacharias.

In accordance to Martin & Miller, the knowledge provided amorous communications with several women, and extra than 200 photographs of gals.

Amid the photos had been six of Lori Anne Thompson – a Canadian female who has contended that Zacharias “groomed” her into engaging in sexually express on the internet discussions and finally sending indecent photos.

In 2017, Thompson and her partner sent Zacharias a letter demanding $5 million in exchange for a launch of promises against him and the ministry. In reaction, Zacharias sued the Thompsons for extortion, but he quickly dropped that lawsuit and the get-togethers eventually arrived at a private settlement.

Martin & Miller claimed Thompson’s allegations of staying exploited had been strengthened by the findings on Zacharias’ communications with other women, as effectively as his evasive and angry responses when requested about his phone documents at the time of the extortion lawsuit.

“We interviewed witnesses inside RZIM who have been not contented with Mr. Zacharias’ explanations, and some claimed their perception that they were being marginalized for increasing thoughts,” the report reported.

The RZIM board, which earlier derided Thompson’s allegations, apologized to her on Thursday.

“We feel Lori Anne Thompson has instructed the truth of the matter about the mother nature of her romance with Ravi Zacharias,” the board reported. “It is with profound grief that we figure out that due to the fact we did not think the Thompsons and both of those privately and publicly perpetuated a false narrative, they were slandered for years and their suffering was enormously prolonged and intensified.”

“This leaves us heartbroken and ashamed,” the statement included.

Thompson, in a concept to The Associated Press, said she and her husband “are deeply indebted to each individual target and whistleblower who spoke for not only by themselves, but also for us.”

The law business report and board statement are “an initial move in what we foresee will be extensive and arduous journey towards institutional accountability,” she added.

The board outlined a number of methods “to make positive nothing at all like this occurs again.”

Among them:

-_ Employing distinguished target advocate Rachael Denhollander to “educate and advise” the board and serve as a private liaison with survivors of abuse and harassment.

-_ Employing a consulting company, Guidepost Alternatives, to assess RZIM’s structure, lifestyle, policies and finances.

The scandal experienced already had a negative impression on the ministry even in advance of the legislation company launched its report. Many radio stations dropped RZIM plans, booksellers pulled Zacharias’ guides from their offerings, and a network of university student-led mission groups functioning on British college campuses questioned RZIM-affiliated speakers to withdraw from upcoming situations.

Very last month, RZIM’s affiliate in Canada introduced it was halting fundraising for three months, and some of its staff resigned.

Dan Paterson, previously a speaker for RZIM in Australia, utilised Twitter to categorical his dismay.

“I experience dissatisfied in myself and other folks who could have pushed more challenging towards the tides of submissive loyalty to demand from customers superior responses before,” he tweeted. “There is no section of the evangelical creed that honors cowardice or sacrifices conscience.”

Related Press faith coverage gets assist from the Lilly Endowment by way of The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this written content.