Vince Vitale, and his wife, Joanna Vitale, who respectively serve as the director and the dean of the Zacharias Institute, today apologized for perpetuating the “lies” of Ravi Zacharias and hurting his victims in a video posted to YouTube.
Speaking of Zacharias, whom an investigation recently concluded had sexually abused multiple women, Vince said: “Ravi abused people in horrific ways and then repeatedly and brazenly lied to our faces. On the heels of these truths came the sickening realization that by believing Ravi’s lies and then passing on his false narratives, we in turn deeply hurt people—the very people most in need of our care—and we added to their pain. We are sorry. We are so very, very sorry.”
The couple, who also serve as speakers for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), confessed that they failed to listen to Lori Anne Thompson in 2017 when she came forward with allegations of how Zacharias had lured her into a sexting relationship.
Joanna said she felt “particularly convicted” as “someone who speaks regularly about the God who sees women.”
“I should have recognized my own personal bias and weighted the victim’s words more heavily. As a woman with a public voice, I failed to use that voice to speak up for another when her voice was not being heard. For this, I am so ashamed, and so devastatingly sorry.”
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Similarly, Vince Vitale apologized for too quickly accepting Zacharias’ explanations “for emails now made public.” Vitale said he should have sought counsel and recommended an investigation in 2017. Had he done that, he said Zacharias’ “abuse might have been topped much sooner.”
“We thought we were loving our friend by trusting his word, but in reality we were failing to love victims by not demanding that their testimony be treated with utter seriousness and properly addressed,” Vince said. “We thought we were loving a friend well, but we were failing to love our neighbors well. And actually, we were also not loving Ravi well because friends challenge you to live in the truth, and we made it too easy for Ravi to live a lie.”
He added, “In doing this, we were among those who not only lengthened but also intensified the pain of Lori Anne and Brad Thompson, as they were then slandered for years. The suffering they and their family have experienced over the last four years has been horrendous. It must also have been wrenching for survivors to watch as Ravi continued to be praised while Lori Anne was maligned. That we contributed to this makes us heartsick.”
Joanna added that the couple is committing “to listening and learning from the voices of survivors,” and noted Lori Anne Thompson’s victim impact statement as a “deeply moving place to start for anyone else who feels they have not listened as God asks us to.”
Vince said he feels “particularly blameworthy” for quelling people’s concerns about Zacharias both within RZIM “but also externally to ministry partners.”
“The result of all that we have shared is that some people believed Ravi’s lies because they believed us . . .” he said. “(W)e violated the trust of others, and for this we wholeheartedly apologize to our colleagues, our friends, and our ministry partners.”
The couple said they are at the “very beginning” of a process of identifying and confessing wrongs they have committed. “As we pray and learn,” Joanna said, “we hope to increasingly identify selfish dispositions, unhealthy patterns of behavior, wrong thinking, and specific failures that we are responsible for and need to repent of.”
The Vitales also acknowledged RZIM, “at least in its current form,” may “come to an end.” But they said their top priority is “to support the process of victims receiving justice and being cared for.”
In response to the Vitale’s statement, Lori Anne Thompson tweeted: “Vince and Jo, You have apologized in a complete and comprehensive manner. I am grateful for the journey you are on and I will do all I can to be of service. So often we pray for truth, light and sight but when it show up — it can be devastating.”
Vince and Jo,
You have apologized in a complete and comprehensive manner. I am grateful for the journey you are on and I will do all I can to be of service. So often we pray for truth, light and sight but when it shows up — it can be devastating.
— Lori Anne Thompson R Kin. BSCH Kin. MA CHAD (@LoriAnneThomps2) February 23, 2021
Vince & Joanna Vitale’s Recorded Statement: