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New sexual misconduct claims surface about Ravi Zacharias

Famed apologist’s ministry and denomination pledge to investigate


Ravi Zacharias Emanuel Tanjala/Alamy

New sexual misconduct claims surface about Ravi Zacharias
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Warning: This report contains graphic accusations about sexual activity.

New, graphic accusations of sexual misconduct have emerged against recently deceased Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, who died in May after decades as a globally renowned Christian speaker and writer.

Christianity Today reported the new accusations in which several women who provided regular massage therapy to Zacharias at spas he owned claimed he had touched them without their consent, masturbated in front of them, and asked for sex and explicit photos.

While CT’s reporting was based on unnamed sources, WORLD has spoken to the former manager of one of the spas, Anna Adesanya, who spoke on the record. She says a therapist had complained about Zacharias asking her for “more than a massage.” The accounts raise questions about a potential pattern of sexual harassment by Zacharias. He was 74 when he died of cancer earlier this year after 48 years of marriage to his wife, Margie.

The ministry Zacharias founded, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), issued a statement calling the accusations “false.” The ministry would not answer WORLD’s questions about the accusations but said it had commissioned an independent investigation.

The denomination where Zacharias was an ordained minister, the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA), said the new accusations “have raised concern” and it is assessing “additional steps” to take in light of the new information. Both the ministry and denomination had staunchly defended Zacharias’ reputation in 2017 and 2018 after the apologist was accused of initiating a sexting and phone sex relationship with a Canadian woman 30 years his junior.

Zacharias had previously acknowledged privately communicating with Lori Anne Thompson on an encrypted app, but said all of the explicit material she sent him was unsolicited and unwanted. He sued Thompson and her husband in 2017 and later settled with them out of court in a confidential agreement. He characterized her and husband Brad Thompson, who according to new information was a financial supporter of Zacharias’ radio broadcasts in Canada, as extortionists trying to ruin his reputation.

The latest accusations relate to Zacharias’ activity at two spas he co-owned at a strip mall in Alpharetta, Ga., near RZIM headquarters: Touch of Eden, which operated from 2004 to 2008, and Jivan Wellness, which operated from 2009 to 2015.

Christianity Today interviewed three massage therapists who worked at both Jivan and Touch of Eden at different times and who claim Zacharias sexually harassed them. The therapists, whom CT did not name, said Zacharias exposed himself and masturbated in front of them multiple times, and they said he touched them without their permission. One said he ran his hand up her leg to “the private area,” and another said he touched her breast and under her pants. One said he had requested explicit photos.

“He would expose himself every time, and he would touch himself every time,” one therapist told CT.

RZIM in a statement said the accusations “do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades” and they “pertain to businesses that were closed nearly a decade ago.”

WORLD spoke to an additional source, longtime spa manager Anna Adesanya, who worked at Jivan Wellness from 2009 until ownership changed in 2012. Adesanya told me Zacharias would come in regularly, maybe once a month. She remembered an incident around 2009 in which a massage therapist came to her and said she was uncomfortable treating Zacharias anymore because he had asked her for “more than a massage.”

Adesanya, who was unfamiliar with Zacharias’ apologetics ministry, said she took the information to Zacharias’ spa business partner, Anurag Sharma, and asked that they talk to Zacharias. She said the two met him at his office at RZIM, where Zacharias showed them his back X-rays as a way of explaining his need for therapy. Zacharias had spoken publicly about his chronic back problems from an injury decades earlier.

“He did not admit it—he became defensive,” said Adesanya. “He said, ‘Who is this girl, what is she trying to do to me?’”

After the meeting, Adesanya said, Sharma fired the therapist who had complained. Zacharias continued coming for regular spa appointments. (Sharma did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

Adesanya said no other therapists complained to her about Zacharias during her tenure. But she said Zacharias only went to certain therapists and often brought his own massage therapist, an Indian woman, and they would occupy one of the rooms for therapy sessions. “I would often have to wonder, because they would be in that room for hours. At most you’re going to have a therapy session that’s going to last an hour and half , maybe two hours top,” Adesanya said. “It would exceed two hours, if not three. … But it was never anything that was spoken of.”

A former owner of Jivan Wellness, Juanita Bonds, noted she thought it unusual for a Christian leader to invest in a massage business. “If you said to me, a preacher is invested in a spa, I would think, ‘Why? Why did this man take an interest in a spa?’” said Bonds, who bought Jivan from Sharma in 2012. “I can’t make church and spa work no kind of way.”

When Sharma pitched the spa sale to Bonds, she said, he described how a celebrity like Zacharias had founded the spa with him and invested in it. He showed her a video of the grand opening, where Zacharias appears as one of the founders. While Touch of Eden featured a Bible verse on its website homepage, Jivan focused on general wellness practices including Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicinal system with roots in Hinduism.

Bonds said Zacharias had regular appointments at Jivan before she bought the spa, but he quit coming after she took ownership in 2012.

Immigration lawyer Steve Baughman was the first to claim, in a YouTube video, that Zacharias had abused women in the spas he owned.

A memorial service for Ravi Zacharias on Friday, May 29, 2020, in Atlanta.

A memorial service for Ravi Zacharias on Friday, May 29, 2020, in Atlanta. Brynn Anderson/AP

The women who accused Zacharias of sexual misconduct described a pattern, according to CT: They said Zacharias gained their confidence and learned their life stories, which included instances of sexual abuse.

That is also what Lori Anne Thompson claims Zacharias did to her.

Thompson and husband Brad met Zacharias at a donor event in 2014 and began communicating with the apologist by email, at first about Zacharias’ ministry. Soon Lori Anne Thompson was the only one communicating with Zacharias. In an account that she wrote later, she said that the situation escalated from a ministry relationship, in which she confided to Zacharias her background as a sexual abuse survivor, to one where he was requesting explicit photos of her and engaging in phone sex.

The Thompsons are now forbidden by a confidential settlement agreement from talking about what happened. But Lori Anne’s sister, Tamara Battiste, released Lori Anne’s pre-settlement account. Battiste also had phone records and email records between Zacharias and Thompson. Independent reporter and blogger Julie Roys first published those records, some of which WORLD has also obtained independently.

Battiste said her sister confessed the adulterous relationship to her in 2016. She said Zacharias would call Thompson constantly, request nude photos, and initiate phone sex.

RZIM, in a recent statement on these allegations, said Zacharias had never been alone with Thompson. But Thompson had never claimed they were alone. RZIM also said there was no evidence Zacharias had ever solicited photos from her. Thompson’s pre-settlement statement said Zacharias did ask for photos of her scantily clad, and she eventually progressed to sending him nude photos of herself. She said she deleted all of their email exchanges at the time “out of an earnest desire to protect him.”

In her account, Thompson acknowledged her complicity in engaging in the relationship but also felt a mix of “victimization, sin, shame, and sorrow.” She felt Zacharias had taken advantage of the knowledge that she had been sexually abused by her father, engaging in a paternal relationship that turned sexual.

As Roys reported and Battiste confirmed, Thompson went to Biblical counselors to try to save her marriage in 2016. After confessing the relationship to her counselors, she emailed Zacharias, saying she was going to confess to her husband. According to Battiste’s email records, Zacharias responded by apparently threatening to kill himself, saying, “If you betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise.” Thompson’s account and Zacharias’ lawsuit both reference his suicide threat, although Zacharias’ lawsuit argued it was a threat over “his reputation being unfairly tarnished.”

Battiste said Thompson texted her about Zacharias’ threat when it happened, asking what she should do. Thompson’s counselors wrote directly back to Zacharias from her email account asking about his well-being, according to Roys’ records, and he responded to say he was fine.

Battiste, a former missionary to Africa, said that after seeing so much “corruption in ministry,” she no longer attends church, although she maintains a private faith.

“I would like to see a little bit of accountability,” she said.

Eventually, the Thompsons consulted a lawyer, who in 2017 wrote a private letter to Zacharias seeking a $5 million settlement and accusing him of taking advantage of Lori Anne while acting as a “spiritual guide.” The letter stated that after Lori Anne confessed the relationship to her husband, their marriage suffered and Brad became suicidal.

In response to the letter, Zacharias filed a federal lawsuit against the Thompsons. The lawsuit accused the couple of extortion and pointed to a previous lawsuit Brad had filed against a pastor as evidence that he was a serial extorter. It used excerpts of emails to paint Lori Anne as a manipulative woman who was scheming to ruin Zacharias.

The lawsuit also claimed the Thompsons were “experiencing significant financial distress” and had believed that “depicting an inappropriate relationship (in person, online, or otherwise) between Ms. Thompson and a prominent, pious individual like [Zacharias] would enable them to force the individual to pay an exorbitant sum of money under the threat of the disclosure.”

But tax documents, which WORLD obtained, show the Thompsons to be relatively prosperous, making about $443,000 the year Zacharias sued them and giving $50,000 of that to charity. That year Brad’s electrical business also gave $149,000 to ministries including UCB Canada, a Christian broadcasting company that had aired Zacharias’ broadcasts.

Yet the Zacharias lawsuit accused the Thompsons of “demonstrated criminal conduct” and said their “scheme” was “extreme, outrageous, and shocks the conscience.” It demanded compensation for Zacharias’ emotional distress.

Employment lawyer Ed Sullivan, who was not involved in the case but regularly handles such cases, told me demand letters like the Thompsons’ are normal. He said an attorney can put a specific settlement amount in a letter to show how confident he feels about the case. Usually, cases settle for about 20 percent of the demand, so if the Thompsons’ lawyer asked Zacharias for $5 million, that would communicate they likely wouldn’t settle for less than $1 million.

But he noted that a person with deep pockets can “fight a two-front war” by filing his own lawsuit, as Zacharias did. Even if you make $400,000 a year like the Thompsons, “you are going to have financial difficulties defending a lawsuit,” said Sullivan. That “drives your settlement strategy, and lowers the amount.”

After the Thompsons settled in 2017, Zacharias released a statement to CT defending his character. (The Thompsons’ lawyers maintain the statement violated their settlement’s confidentiality agreement.)

“In my 45 years of marriage to Margie, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind,” Zacharias said at the time. “I love my wife with all my heart and have been absolutely faithful to her these more than 16,000 days of marriage, and have exercised extreme caution in my daily life and travels, as everyone who knows me is aware. I have long made it my practice not to be alone with a woman other than Margie and our daughters—not in a car, a restaurant, or anywhere else.”

That statement is now in question with the accusations that he at least spent time alone with women at the spa.

The Christian & Missionary Alliance said it was assessing “additional steps” after the latest reports. In March 2018, the C&MA said Zacharias would retain his ministerial credentials in the denomination after it had conducted a “thorough inquiry” into the accusations involving Lori Anne Thompson. At the time, the denomination said it had interviewed those involved and reviewed “all available documentation and records … the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.” (Thompson told me the denomination never contacted her, but she reached out to the denomination after learning there was an investigation.)

Now the C&MA says it will look at any new information in relation to the spas or the Thompson allegations.

“These recent allegations about Mr. Zacharias have raised concern over the C&MA’s decision in 2018 to retain Mr. Zacharias’ ministry credentials,” said spokesman Peter Burgo in a statement. “This decision was made based on what was known about Mr. Zacharias’ personal behavior and ministry activities at that time.”


Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City.

@emlybelz

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Ann Marshall

Cyborg3 have you read the proverb that runs, "a curse without cause does not alight"? Mr. Zacharias, whom you keep pronouncing "dead" and "unable to defend himself" is either far more alive than you or I at this moment, or else the Gospel he preached is not true. "He is not the God of the dead but of the living. You are badly mistaken!" As far as defending himself goes, Mr. Zacharias did in fact defend his reputation. There was the settlement with the Thompsons, which included an injunction against talking about the matter (which he subsequently ignored) and there was the situation which led to the firing of a massage therapist. I hear you, that you'd much rather impugn a few women than an extremely influential and wealthy man. Your harsh reaction to these allegations is to be expected from some quarters of the evangelical camp and is exactly the reason why they were brought forward tardily and reluctantly. 

Chrisi56

  I am fed up with World's gossip columns...none of this can be proven, World is not part of a reconciliation and not reaching any sort of conclusion, just destroying someone's reputation nationwide.  First it was James McDonald, then Jerry Falwell, now Ravi Zacharias.  It is inappropriate to go into all the sordid details as well and if CT is reporting this kind of stuff in such detail I'm glad I have never subscribed to them.  How have your words built up God's kingdom here and who is hearing grace in them?  The aspersions cast on Ravi's character can never be taken back.  There they are in print.  Remember, the Judge is standing at the door.  I will respectfully end my subscription and hope you stop the slander.

Salty1

Yes, they were sought after by an atheist with an agenda to destroy Mr Zacharias. How exactly do you know he did not pay the women off and have them claim they didn't seek any money? 

Ann Marshall

It is slander only if untrue. Since the women did not "come forward" but were sought after, and since they ask for nothing (no money, no apologies), but only wish to show solidarity with other women who may have been imposed upon, perhaps you could grant them the benefit of the doubt? 

Ype7735

I am a new subscriber.   I just opened the wrapper; sat down to read and the very first article I read is this filth and slander against a dead man who can't even defend himself.   I'm calling now to request a refund and to cancel my subscription.  I thought I was purchasing a magazine with a Christian Worldview and perspective.  Not the National Enqirer.  

Xion

There is no end to making money by tearing down the famous.  Was Ravi not a sinner?  Does this negate his life?

On the other hand, it should be a wake up call to all men...

Many are the victims she has brought down.  Many strong men have been slain by her.  Prov 7:26

NLE4287

Hmmmm. 

not silent

For Cyborg, I guess my comment wasn't as clear as I wanted it to be.  To clarify a few things addressed in your response:

First of all, you seem to assume that I believe one side over the other; but, with cases like this, there is no way to know who is telling the truth.  All I have to go by is this article, and I was addressing what it said.

Regarding your first point, the allegations by Ms. Thomson were brought forward during Mr. Zecharias' life; and those were the ones which resulted in a legal settlement. (I'm not saying that means he was guilty or commenting on whether or not he had reason to file the lawsuit; I was directly addressing the scripture provided by YOU in a previous comment which says that believers should not engage in public lawsuits and pointing out that it was Mr. Zecharias who filed the PUBLIC lawsuit.) 

It also says that "Adesanya, who was unfamiliar with Mr. Zecharias' apologetics ministry" met with Mr. Zecharias' spa partner and asked for a meeting and "She said the two of them met him at his office at RZIM, where Zecharias showed them his back X-rays..." and, in a quote from Adesanya, "'He did not admit it-he became very defensive.'"  So, based on the article (which is all the info I have right now), there were separate attempts to address BOTH DURING HIS LIFETIME.  

Regarding Ms. Thompson's comments about Mr. Zecharias, I was presenting the only info I have, which is what the article says.  I realize she could be lying (you seem convinced that she was); but, in reality, there is no way for us to know.  Pastors are human like the rest of us, and I know some who struggle with mental illness. 

You made the point that the allegations by the spa therapists were "pushed" by an atheist. I debate atheists all the time online, and I am well aware of their tactics against Christianity. I'm ALSO aware of many cases of sexual assault by Christian leaders. (I'm not just talking about publicized ones, Cyborg.  I know people personally who were involved in cases that were never publicized.)  I don't know who is telling the truth in this case.  But I don't see how it's helpful to pretend the allegations don't exist after someone (atheist or otherwise) makes them public. It does not help win atheists to the gospel if we presume they are liars and Christians are truthful or if we refuse to look into allegations of sinful behavior by Christians.  In my debates, I fully acknowledge the sinfulness of Christians as human beings; but then I point to Christ and say that is why we need a savior.

I doubt we will ever know the truth about this, and that makes me very sad about Mr. Zecharias' family and his legacy. It's very frightening to think that something like this could come out after someone's death and sully their reputation forever.  However, this is an opportunity for us as Christians to point out that we are all sinful and in need of a savior, and that Jesus came to save sinners like us. The Bible didn't censor the story of King David's adultery and decision to commit murder to cover it up or other stories about incest and violence.  It shows how deadly sin can be and how great God's grace is for us as sinners.  Our earthly reputation is important, but it's not the most important thing; and we can use situations like this to point to the only perfect human who ever lived-Jesus. 

Salty1

Below is my response. 
Cyborg, you make some very good points about how things should be dealt with one on one first and then brought before the church. In this situation, it appears those things were attempted while Mr. Zecharias was alive but that the situations never got resolved. 

There was only one allegation brought forward while he was alive and it was resolved legally. Mr Zacharias settled out of court for an unspecified amount, which he received from Mr. & Mrs. Thompson.  

Based on the article, Ms. Thompson confessed first to her counselors and then informed Mr. Zecharias that she was going to tell her husband, but Mr. Zecharias threatened to kill himself. 

These are the allegations made by Mrs. Thompson but Mr. Zecharias denied these charges. Why do you automatically believe her and not him? 

After consulting a lawyer, Ms. Thompson wrote a private letter seeking a monetary settlement from Mr. Zecharias, and Mr. Zecharias responded by filing a federal lawsuit. (I find it significant that she sent a PRIVATE letter.  HE was the one who filed a federal lawsuit and made the situation part of the public record.)

Yes, they wrote a private letter to extort money out of him for $5 million!  If Mr. Zacharias was guilty, I would think he would pay off the amount to make it go away. If not guilty, it would be appropriate to follow up with a lawsuit to expose the extortion by people outside of his church who were acting like the devil.  Possibly, he could have gone to their church to seek resolution but there could well have been legitimate reasons to file a lawsuit- one being that extortion is illegal.  

https://www.justia.com/criminal/offenses/white-collar-crimes/extortion/

They were attempting to extort money from the Ministry.  Why would they not work through the church denomination (the Missionary Alliance) rather than quietly attempt to extort money- if they really cared about the church.

Regarding the other accusers, the massage therapists, I'm not sure they were part of the church.  Based on the article, at least one of them tried to deal with this through the spa and they even brought in Mr. Zecharias, but he denied it and the therapist was fired.  I'm not sure if there was any further investigation. 

I don’t think they were part of the church but what is important is the person who pushed these allegations was an atheist who is a lawyer, Steve Baughman.  Julie Roy says this about him:

“Steve Baughman, author of "Cover-up In the Kingdom" was the first to break the story of spa workers whom Zacharias allegedly sexually harassed.”

What reason would an atheist have for bringing a Christian apologist down who regularly decimated them in debate? I wonder. Having interacted with atheist before on the Internet, they are very devious in their actions and developing a false story to eliminate an apologists discourse against atheism would not surprise me. Here I don’t mean to imply that all atheists are like this, but their are a group that are vindictive and hateful of Christians who believe the ends justify the means. 

I guess I'm wondering how we should handle cases like this where there are several similar accusations from women who are not connected to each other, where there have already been one-on-one confrontations, and where the attempts to deal with it through the church (or the employer) led to the accusers being sued or fired. I guess it would help to know if RZIM did their own investigation into any of these accusations.       

Again, you assume there is validity to their accusations where they were very likely made up.  How do you not know that some wealthy atheist hired this lawyer to bring Mr. Zecharias down by whatever means. Were these women paid off in some fashion to level these accusations? I believe these are legitimate questions that need to be answered before we assume the worst in Mr. Zecharias. 

Salty1

Nobody here is putting Mr. Zacharias on a pedestal, but we don't believe that extortion, slander and unverified accusations should be allowed to bring an honorable man down. There is a biblical process to follow especially with men who have labored for the Kingdom of God. Spreading this muck when the man is not alive to defend himself doesn't honor God. Allegations from an atheist with clear intentions to harm Mr. Zacharias should also give us pause to question them. Emily is clearly no Nathan and pushing such notions only puts her on a pedestal where she thinks that offing ministers and church leaders based on slander of the Internet is a calling of God. 

Tim Miller

Ravi himself said many times that the ministry would rise or fall on his personal integrity. He repeated the story of a woman who left one of his lectures very moved. But she said, "I wonder what he's like in his private life." Fair question, even according to Ravi. 

NBrooks

This just seems like gossip to me. When they have finished investigating it, come back and tell us. Otherwise, what good does this kind of reporting do?

islander

Thank you thank you Emily for such courageous reporting. Christians who occupy a public pedestal are extremely intimidating, and it is so good to understand the dangers both to the one occupying that position, and those who would vaunt them. We have too many "untouchable" stars in American Christendom. That is a terrible danger, not only to those whom the "Star" would exploit (from the dis-creditable masses), but to those believers who are itching for a flesh-and-bones "king" (look only to the comments above to see what happens when a Christian's king's reputation is sullied!) and most importantly to the reputation of Christ Himself to a watching world. And watching they are. Lurid as the details are, we need to know what goes on behind closed doors- in order to open them. There should BE no closed doors. And this kind of investigative journalism should raise the fear of God in any Christian leader who is operating under the assumption that he can "have his cake and eat it too" ... Thank you World for being a Nathan for our time.

Crystal Hardin

Shades of Thomas and Kavanaugh. It seems obvious to me that this is another  attack of the Enemy and his minions to destroy the legacy and continuing ministry of a dedicated servant of God after his death, when he doesn't have the opportunity to deal with it. All of those who heard him speak are aware of the pain he suffered from his back. Having lived in Asia for years, I am aware of many of the treatments from those areas that actually work on the body despite their religious origin. How many Christians do yoga exercise?

Accusations from a woman who had troubles (who had somehow deleted her emails), a worker who felt uncomfortable, and some anonymous women who were possibly paid for their testimony, do not really amount to a case, especially when there was no proof in the court, and there was the explicit renunciation of the charge by Zacharias while he was alive. Those of us who are familiar with his life and his God-given ability to speak for Truth and constantly to defend it have no doubt that this is just a ridiculous attempt of the Evil One. He has his foot in the door. Don't allow him to go further!

 

Hawkdriver

CM is speaking Wisdom.  I could only stand to read the title of the article and the comments but that's enough.  Thank God modern 'technology' and reporting wasn't around when the Word of God was penned.  Who knows what people would say about the lives of the Apostles?  Especially after they were dead.

None of us are perfect, hence the need for Christ, but what Biblical good does this sexually explicit article accomplish? 

I too have been a strong promoter of World, but am very disappointed in how this situation was handled.

WMC1361

I think we need to resist the temptation to convict Ravi in the court of puplic opinion. Nothing has been proven. A person is innocent until proven guilty and there is not enough here to give a verdict. 

I hope the women who have suffered can get the treatment they need. It is also important for the sake of Ravi's family to give him the benefit of the dought. I most certainly will.

CMCC6020

There's another item that I'd label a "hole" in the story.  This comes from one of the Roys Report articles (part 3, I think).

According to that article, the Thompsons early on released information to several bloggers because they thought that the news would never reach back to their hometown.

I'm sorry, but I don't believe that.  How could anyone with the slightest bit of sense think that a shocking story about a world-renowned Christian apologist would NOT get back to their hometown?  That makes no sense.  I see only 3 possibilities: (1) Roys is misreporting; (2) the Thompsons are extremely naive to the point of sheer stupidity; (3) the Thompsons are lying.  I see no other explanations.

 

CMCC6020

Steve,

Ah!  Good catch!  I hadn't noticed the discrepancy in dates between CT (2005-2010) and WORLD (2009-2012).  This actually introduces a new discrepancy that should be explained.

Changing behavior over time is of course one possible explanation of what I labeled discrepancy #1. Sure. But until an explanation is provided, it remains a discrepancy.

proudmama

I agree 100%.   I used to trust World for the "news" filtered through a Biblical worldview.  Unfortunately, it's now become propaganda for a leftist, godless agenda.  This is the final straw:  I want an immediate refund. 

BCAR8165

Thank you Emily for a well researched follow-up to CT's article. We are proud to continue our support of World. Off topic, World Watch is fantastic!

Steve SoCal

This is all so sad.  Whether these accusations turn out to be true or not, there are some lessons for us to learn. 

One is that we should do our best to live without leaving room for someone to say there is an appearance of evil. 

Another lesson is that Christians need to stop glorifying and focusing on people, no matter how wonderful their lives and ministries appear to be.  People will always disappoint, even more so when we put them up on a pedestal.  Let's focus on Christ and how amazing God is instead!

Steve SoCal

Just looking at your first two points, I believe the supposed discrepancy could be due to two different timeframes.  I believe the manager was there more recently (2009-2012 according to World) than the experiences of the former employees (2005-2010 according to CT), and habits and activities may have changed meanwhile.  If so, both accounts could be completely accurate.  So I'm not sure there are any "holes and discrepancies" at least on your first two points.

Sharon & Ron

Ravi Zacharias is held in high esteem around the world for his defense of Christianity and His love for the souls of those who are seeking answers and purpose in their lives and who find that in Jesus Christ through the powerful words and care and love and passion.  No one is without sin.  All of our sins are as filthy rags - yours and mine - and the blood of Jesus was spent because he loved us so deeply and freed us from our sins. I certainly agree with the principal of guarding our hearts and protecting our marriages.  The concept is not what I object to.   I am extremely disappointed in Emily's coverage and World's editorial decision to report the details of a man's sin in such lurid details.  To besmirch the character of Ravi and the Name of Jesus Christ is beyond the journalistic integrity of what I expect from World news group.  Words are powerful.  Explicit words are powerfully evil.  If this sin, although unproven, has been committed, just report the facts.  World is not Christianity Today, World is not Esquire at the supermarket checkout.  This is the kind of headline I would expect to find there.  A simple piece, explaining the trouble, if there is proven to be some, does not require descriptive terms found in journalism of lower integrity than what we would expect.  I am broken hearted =, not with Ravi's supposed moral failings, but with Emily's report and the sanctions of World to publish it.  Marvin Olasky interviews 'famous' people all the time; I do not read of their moral failings; just the character and opinions  that makes them noteworthy.  Our subscription is set to automatically renew the end of this month.  Whether we renew is really up to your response and apology and your promise to never be explicit about any sexual sin, no matter whose.  This is a greater offense and in greater detail than your movie reviews.  I am deeply sorry, and I probably will renew because of the usual true news journalism but please know how offended many of us are with your indiscretion and disregard for the reputation of Ravi and the defaming of the Name of Christ in the meantime.  More emphasis on the power of the cross and less on the failings of men and women should mark the World journalism we have come to trust.  The weight in the balance is terribly skewed.  I certainly would not want my highschooler to read this stuff nor my junior high granddaughters for whom I have just recently made the gift of subscriptions for them.  Again, I cannot express my deep disappoint enough.  Is this how it is going to feel at the judgment seat - all our sins laid out from over our lifetimes - NO - Jesus has covered our sins with his blood and that is what He will see - His righteousness, not our own, if we are His.  Sincerely, Sharon Malone, longtime subscriber to World and supporter of WNG.   

CMCC6020

This is very sad news.

IF it is true.

And there’s the thing, we don’t know if it is true, or not.  I don’t know.  You don’t know.  Emily Belz doesn’t know.  Nobody knows -- except the individuals making the accusations.

Of course it is possible that Ravi Zacharias sinned in these gross ways.  We all share a sinful nature, even the most prominent of us.  But it is also possible that he is being falsely accused.  The accusers also share the same sinful nature.

Having now read through and studied as much of this as I can stomach, my suspicions are that the original Thompson accusation is false.  Her accusations read much more like the work of a sadly twisted mind, weaving imaginations into allegations.  On the other hand, the new accusations, made by three different women (with no apparent self-interest, and with some corroboration) seem more substantial. 

But all through the story, there are holes and discrepancies.  I feel that we’re dealing with a distinct lack of information.  Here are the key questions that I see, that might help ascertain the truth of the matter:  (having now read World, CT new and old, and Roys articles, and the CMA statement, please forgive me if I refer to some things not in evidence in the above World article)

DISCREPANCIES:

(1) World reports that the spa manager Adesanya said that Zacharias came in regularly once per month.

According to CT, the accusers say that he came in 2-3 times per week.

Which is it?  Why the difference?

 

(2) When Zacharias went to this spa, did he bring his own Indian masseuse?  Or did he employ the in-house masseuses? 

Which is it?  If both, then how frequently the one vs the other?

 

(3) The World article says: “Battiste said Thompson texted her about Zacharias’ threat when it happened, asking what she should do.”

But the Roys article presents the entire email exchange between Thompson and Zacharias as being in the presence of her psychologists.

It seems highly unlikely that both are true.  Which is it?  Why the difference?

 

(4) If, as the Roys articles report, the motivation of the Thompsons in suing Zacharias for $5M was to hold him accountable and protect others from being hurt, then why did they even consider, let alone accept, a settlement in silence?

 

(5) The CMA statement (apparently from March 5, 2018) reported that they interviewed those involved in the Thompson allegation.  The World article reports that Mrs. Thompson says they never contacted her, and indeed she reached out to them.

How can we resolve this discrepancy?  Did the CMA talk to her?  Did they attempt to, but she or a representative declined?  Did they talk to her lawyer(s)?  Did her lawyers deny direct access to her? Did the CMA ever receive an offer from Thompson for an interview?  In what manner does Thompson claim to have reached out to the CMA -- via her lawyers? A direct phone call, or a physical letter, or an email? What address/number did she use? When? Did she receive any confirmation that her offer was received?  What was the CMA’s response, if any?

 

INNUENDO:

(6) Long massages can only be explained by sexual activity. 

I really don’t think that’s true.

 

(7) Owning a spa is inherently sinful.

While it is uncommon for a religious leader to own a spa, it is not inherently sinful -- unless you think that massages are always sexual.

 

(8) Using traditional Indian medicine equates to following Hinduism and betraying Christianity.

I really don’t think it does.  (Not that I’m very likely to adopt much from traditional Indian medicine. But I also wouldn’t rule it out, sight unseen, on either practical or spiritual grounds.)

 

APPARENT SLANTS:

(9) The Roys articles contain a copy of a PDF of a printout of an email from Mrs. Thompson.  Right up front, Roys -- to some amount of credit (but also with a distinct purpose of excusing the errors) -- points out that there are two discrepancies in the stated dates.  In both cases, the “typo” got the year wrong by +1.  One statement of “2017” must really mean “2016”, and one statement of “2016” must really mean “2015”.  Roys tells us that these are mere accidental typos. 

There again, these date errors could be clues to fabrication.   The letter is dated December 27, 2017; but it must really have been 2016.  Hmm.  Writing the wrong year, minus one, in January is a common error.  But writing the wrong year, plus one, in December?  Well, it could happen.  Meanwhile, how likely is it that, writing in December of 2016, you would intend to say “the fall of 2015” but accidentally say “the fall of 2016”?  It’s certainly possible that both those errors could be mere accidents.  But it also certainly opens the door to checking if there's some lying going on.

 

(10) The above WORLD article reads, “RZIM, in a recent statement on these allegations, said Zacharias had never been alone with Thompson. But Thompson had never claimed they were alone. ” 

The import of Zacharias never having been physically alone with Thompson is obvious. Why does World play blind to this, and offer a counter -- thus attacking the RZIM statement, instead of merely reporting it?

 

(11) The above WORLD article labels Zacharias attacker Steve Baughman an “immigration lawyer.”

CT (in 2017) labeled him an “atheist blogger”.  The same CT article noted that Baughman also pursued Zacharias for “overstating” his roles at universities and seminaries -- what I will flatly call a pitiful attack with obvious malicious intent.

Why the differences?

 

OPEN QUESTIONS:

(12) After the initial spa complaint, apparently in 2009, the co-owner fired the therapist who complained, with full knowledge of his spa manager.  If he fired her without cause, he opened himself up to significant civil and legal liabilities.  If he covered up what he knew to be sexual abuse, he opened himself up to even more civil and legal liabilities. 

Why was he willing to do this?

 

(13) The Thompsons made $443K in the given year.  That’s impressive.  But it doesn’t guarantee that they were not in financial distress.  Giving away $199K of that income does argue strongly in favor of financial security -- but is still not a guarantee.  Living large can do things to people.  (Further, they are in Canada, so presumably those are Canadian dollars.  So that’s like, what, about $20K, US? {*})

 

(14)  And this one is huge.  The answer to this could shed a lot of light on the matter -- at least on the Thompson “sexting” accusation.

The above WORLD article refers to how Zacharias characterized his specific email conversation with Thompson.  “... Zacharias’ lawsuit both reference his suicide threat, although Zacharias’ lawsuit argued it was a threat over “his reputation being unfairly tarnished.” “

This is huge.  We need to know what Zacharias actually said about this email conversation. Roys presents it as extremely damning.  How did Zacharias explain it?  We need this information.  We can’t tell if he agrees it was a reference to suicide but that he meant it as a metaphor, or if he argued it was not suicide but a direct reference to “this world” being public ministry/life, or something else.  We need to have his description of the email conversation.  We need his side of the story.  We need the context.

 

{*} Canadian$...  It’s a joke!  It’s just a good-natured, rah-rah for our side of the border, standard, long-running joke!  Be chill, my Canadian cohorts. 

I have no ill-will toward Canadians.  Some of my best friends are Canadians, eh?

 

Salty1

Joe, you assume the very worst and it could well have been a very innocent business providing messages like many reputable businesses do. 
 

Tim, World Magazine violates basic Biblical principles by running these stories - especially this one.

Janet B

This is sad on many levels.  If these allegations kept arising during Mr. Zacharias' lifetime, why wasn't it researched more thoroughly?  If the number of allegations has increased since his death, why go to the press now that he is dead and cannot defend himself?

I'm not convinced.

Tim Miller

Steve, the Christian and Missionary Alliance gave him credentials. They "investigated" some allegations, without interviewing the victims. RZIM takes in around $40 million a year from Christians. They participated in a legal cover up of the Lori Ann Thompson allegations.
No Christian that I know of is gleeful about this news. My wife and I read I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah while we were engaged. Ravi was one of the good guys in my mind, a gracious, gentle follower of Jesus. Unfortunately, his private actions apparently didn't comport with his public persona. He evaded responsibility for his actions while alive. It would have been better for him if he had been more concerned about pleasing God than pleasing donors and the Christian public.
And that's a lesson we all NEED to learn from this, and what I'm taking away from the World article.

Tim Miller

I grieve for this news, but it reminds me that, "What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops."

Ravi Zacharias had many decades of Christian fame and fortune. He maintained an impeccable reputation through his life. But it's becoming clear that it was a facade that hid a withered soul. God help us to be in private what we portray in public.

If you think World runs these stories gleefully or with a "holier than thou" attitude, you read a different magazine than I do.

Steve Shive

I guess this is what investigative journalism is. This piece violates the "sniff test." It also seems to violate logical, reasonable, and scriptural principles. Someone who can't respond is being accused. He's dead! Old salacious stories are dredged up. Hearsay. His (supposed) comments with no context.  Innuendo about him owning massage parlor with the ridiculous ponderings of spending too much time in the room. This is low and despicable. What good can come of this? What purpose? We are obsessed with this stuff! Nothing good can come of it. Do you have any sense of propriety?!  Just because there is supposed news, and just because it could be reported doesn't mean it should be. This is a low point of other lows for World News Group!!!