The late apologist Ravi Zacharias reportedly raped a female massage therapist and sexually molested several others, according to the results of a months-long investigation released today by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
The RZIM board said it is “shocked and grieved by Ravi’s actions” and feels a “deep need for corporate repentance.” The board also apologized to Lori Anne Thompson, the Canadian woman who says Ravi Zacharias lured her into a sexting relationship with him in 2016.
“We were wrong,” the board, whose members remain unnamed, stated. “Our trust in Ravi’s denial of moral wrongdoing and in his deceptive explanations of emails and other records that became public was severely misplaced . . .”
The investigation, which was commissioned by RZIM and conducted by the law firm Miller & Martin, included interviews with more than 50 people, more than a dozen of whom were massage therapists who treated Zacharias.
The investigation was announced in September, after several former massage therapists alleged that Zacharias had sexually assaulted and harassed them at spas he co-owned. RZIM initially called the allegations false, but announced it would hire Miller & Martin after Christianity Today published the massage therapists’ accounts.
The report stated that one of the therapists described “many encounters over a period of years that she described as rape.” Other massage therapists alleged that Zacharias sexually harassed and assaulted them repeatedly.
Several said they endured the abuse because they felt indebted to Zacharias for financial support and also because Zacharias used their faith to manipulate them into compliance.
The investigation also found that ministry funds were used to provide financial support for the women Zacharias abused. This included using a fake humanitarian effort, called Touch of Hope, which was “purely a discretionary fund” and provided wire payments to benefit four of Zacharias’ massage therapists.
As The Roys Report exclusively reported in January, RZIM employed one therapist as recently as November 2020, six months after Zacharias passed away. This therapist was listed on RZIM organizational charts as the director of “Touch of Hope.”
Though the report “did not find evidence that anyone within RZIM or on its board knew that Mr. Zacharias had engaged in sexual misconduct,” it also documented several major failings by the RZIM board.
In addition to allowing donor funds to be used to pay therapists, RZIM also punished several employees when they expressed concerns about Zacharias traveling with a masseuse or spending weeks alone in Asia. The report also said RZIM did not investigate the allegations raised by Thompson in 2017, but simply believed Zacharias’ narrative.
The woman who alleged Zacharias raped her reported that their relationship began “as a normal massage therapist-client relationship,” but then she “came to think of him as a father figure.” The report said that Zacharias “elicited information about her faith and her financial situation.” And after Zacharias arranged for RZIM to provide financial support for the woman, Zacharias began requiring sex.
The victim said Zacharias also used his position as a spiritual leader to manipulate her. She said Zacharias made her pray with him and thank God for the “opportunity” they both received. The woman said Zacharias called her his “reward” for living a life of service to God. He also talked about “godly men” in the Bible who had more than one wife.
The woman said Zacharias warned her never to speak out against him or she would be responsible for “millions of souls” whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.
Other massage therapists reported similar experiences. Eight therapists reported that Zacharias would start massages “either completely nude or would remove the sheets during the massage.” Five therapists reported that Zacharias “touched or rubbed them inappropriately,” including grabbing their legs, and “rubbing their breasts and genitals.”
The report also included the testimony of Lori Anne Thompson, though initially lead investigator Lynsey Barron told The Roys Report that the scope of the investigation would be limited to the spa workers.
Investigators said they found “significant evidence on Mr. Zacharias’ electronic devices” that proved Thompson’s allegations.
However, investigators said Zacharias’s lead counsel did not produce a notebook of evidence he had compiled related to the Thompson allegations, even though Miller and Martin requested it. This notebook reportedly had been made available to both an RZIM public relations consultant and an RZIM board member.
Investigators said they also asked the Executrix of Zacharias’s estate to cooperate with the investigation by granting them access to the attorney’s file, but the person declined.
The report says investigators found over 200 photographs of women much younger than Zacharias on his phones. One set of photos included nude pictures of a young Malaysian salon employee, one woman showing her bare breasts, and a video of the woman fully naked.
Also included in the photos were six pictures of Thompson, dozens of photos Zacharias took of himself, and dozens of pictures of young Thai, Indian, and Malaysian women. In most of the photographs, the women were clothed. Some pictures featured women “kissing” for the camera.
Despite the mountain of evidence collected in the report, investigators noted that their research “was not exhaustive” and did not extend to other countries Zacharias frequented. They said they tried to balance the need for both “completeness with the need for expediency” and felt they uncovered “sufficient evidence” to conclude Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct.
In response to the report, RZIM said it has hired victim-advocate Rachael Denhollander to consult with the board and also serve as a confidential liaison with survivors “to help guide the process of care, justice, and restitution.”
RZIM said it has also retained Guidepost Solutions “to conduct a thorough evaluation of RZIM, including its structures, culture, policies, processes, finances, and practices.”
The board did not announce any specific steps it will take regarding the ministry or its governance, but only that it is “seeking the Lord’s will regarding the future of this ministry. . . . We will be spending focused time praying and fasting as we discern how God is leading, and we will speak to this in the near future.”
This article has been updated.
Full Report of Investigation Commissioned by RZIM: