An investigation found credible evidence of sexual misconduct over many years. Several massage therapists made allegations against Mr. Zacharias, who died last spring

Influential evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who passed away last spring, dealt with “sexting, unwanted touch, spiritual abuse and rape,” according to a report released Thursday by the global evangelical organization he founded

After initially denying reports of his misconduct, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries announced that an investigation had found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years and across continents

The announcement was the result of an investigation by a Southeastern law firm, Miller & Martin, which RZIM hired in October to investigate reports of sexual misconduct by Dr Zacharias

“We believe not only the women who have made their allegations public, but also other women who have not previously made any public allegation against Ravi, whose identities and stories were exposed during the investigation,” the ministry’s board of directors said in a statement accompanying the report, “We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and we are full of grief for the women injured by this horrific abuse”

If Mr. Zacharias died of cancer in May at the age of 74 He was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him “a man of faith who, like few others in our day, can properly handle the word of truth,” compared him with Billy Graham and CS. Lewis

Although the report adds shocking new details, reports of Mr. Zacharias’ sexual misconduct had occurred in recent years, in 2017 he closed a lawsuit with a Canadian couple he accused of trying to mess with him over intimate text messages to blackmail, which he had exchanged with the woman

Then last fall, a few months after Mr. Zacharias’ death, Christianity Today magazine reported allegations that Mr. Zacharias had groped and masturbated in front of several women who worked at two-day spas he shared near his ministry headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga.After RZIM initially denied these claims, it admitted in December that an interim report from Miller was & Martin acknowledged that he was involved in “sexual misconduct”

The full report paints a strong portrait of this wrongdoing.The law firm interviewed more than a dozen massage therapists who were Mr. Zacharias Five of them reported that he had touched or rubbed them inappropriately, and four said he would touch his own genitals or ask them to touch him, eight said he would either begin the massage completely naked or the draped sheets during the Remove treatment

A massage therapist “reported details of many encounters over a period of years that she referred to as rape,” the report reads. She said Mr. Zacharias spoke to her about issues such as her beliefs and finances, and she turned herself in After he had ensured that his ministry supported her financially, according to the report Sex Mr. Zacharias, it is said, “warned her never to speak out against him, otherwise she would be for the“ millions of souls “responsible whose salvation would be lost if its reputation were damaged”

The law firm also found a pattern of intimate text and email-based relationships with women while checking its electronic devices, they found the phone numbers of more than 200 massage therapists and more than 200 selfies, some of them nudes, of much younger ones Women Mr. Zacharias also used the non-profit ministry to fund some of his long-term therapists The report also shows that he owned two apartments in Bangkok, where he stayed for 256 days between 2010 and 2014. One of his massage therapists stayed in the other apartment

Mr In 2017, in 45 years of marriage, Zacharias said: “I have never engaged in inappropriate behavior of any kind”

The report is a devastating blow to the reputation of a man who for decades was a widely admired Evangelical leader. Born in Chennai, India, he has formidable academic qualifications He had a reputation among many evangelicals as a secular and profitable intellectual. The motto of his ministry is “Help the Thinker Believe Help the Believer Think”

Mr Zacharias specialized in apologetics, a tradition that focuses on logically appealing for the truth of the Christian faith and equipping evangelicals to involve unbelievers in conversations about the faith

“When people in the pews of evangelical churches thought of a Christian intellectual, they would have thought of Ravi Zacharias,” said John Fea, a historian at Messiah College. “He had an immense influence on the way simple American evangelicals thought about how to defend their beliefs ”

He also built RZIM, which at the time of his death employed more than 100 full-time speakers around the world, the ministry appealed to Christian donors who named Mr. Zacharias, as the rare evangelist, atheist and intellectual in the academy, in corporate boardrooms and in other elite spaces. When his health failed last spring, public honors flocked to high profile fans like soccer and baseball player Tim Tebow and Christian rap artist Lecrae

As it turned out, Mr. Zacharias’ academic reputation was based in part on exaggeration. Although he often referred to himself as a “professor” or “research fellow” at Oxford University, for example, he had only a loosely honorary membership in a Christian college there. Similarly, he had his relationship with the University of Cambridge bloated. And although he holds the title of “Dr Zacharias ”in many contexts, including his 2006 memoir“ Walking From East to West ”, was his only honorary doctorate, as RZIM granted in 2017

The first allegations against Mr. Zacharias’ sexual misconduct occurred around the same time that his resume began to crumble

In 2014, Mr. Zacharias met a Canadian couple, Brad and Lori Anne Thompson, at a fundraising lunch in Ontario. They kept in touch and eventually Mr. Zacharias invited Ms. Thompson to correspond privately on BlackBerry Messenger. The evangelist was 30 years older than Ms. Thompson and she saw him as a “spiritual father,” she said. After sharing her story of abuse and trauma with him, she said, Mr. Zacharias began soliciting sexually explicit messages

When Ms. Thompson told Mr. Zacharias that she had to tell her husband about their relationship, Mr. Zacharias threatened suicide, according to leaked emails first published by blogger Julie Anne Smith

After a Thompsons attorney approached Mr. Zacharias privately sued the couple in 2017, publicly portraying them as a serial blackmailer and saying that Dr Thompson had sent him the explicit messages against his will. The lawsuit ended in private mediation and all parties signed a nondisclosure agreement

The board of RZIM on Thursday regretted his response to Ms. Thompson’s allegations, “It is with deep sorrow that we recognize that the Thompsons, because we did not believe and perpetuated a false story both privately and publicly, were slandered for years and their suffering greatly prolonged and has been strengthened, “reads the statement accompanying the report

Mr Zacharias co-owned two-day spas near RZIM headquarters between 2004 and 2015, an unusual endeavor for an evangelist but one that he tried not to hide at the opening of Jivan Wellness in a mall in 2009, one of the speakers was comedian Jeff Foxworthy; Sonny Perdue, then governor of Georgia; and Pastor Johnny Hunt, who was president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the time

A few months after Mr. Zacharias’ death last year, Christianity Today released new reports of his behavior at the spas he frequently went to for massages

These allegations left Mr. Zacharias’ global ministry in chaos. Initially, the organization rejected the women’s accounts Sarah Davis, its executive director, and Mr. Zacharias’ daughter emailed the staff saying she was “confident” that the allegations were not true This comes out from internal emails received by the New York Times The organization told Christianity Today that the claims “disagree in any way with the man we have known for decades.”
Prior to the report’s release on Thursday, current and former employees said they felt disillusioned with the organization’s previous disapprovals and with attempts to dissuade them from forwarding the allegations against Mr. Zacharias

For some, the disillusionment was even greater because it was a ministry that asked difficult questions and took pride in pursuing the truth. “RZIM welcomed doubts about Jesus Christ but declined questions about Ravi Zacharias,” said Daniel Gilman, former speaker at the Organization’s Canadian office

In its statement on Thursday, the RZIM board of directors said it was seeking “the will of the Lord with regard to the future of this ministry” ”

Ravi Zacharias

World News – USA – Ravi Zacharias, influential evangelist, is charged with sexual abuse in a scathing report

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/11/us/ravi-zacharias-sexual-abuse.html