The independent investigation commissioned by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) into allegations of misconduct by its late founder, Ravi Zacharias, does not include the sexting scandal involving Lori Anne Thompson.
That’s according to Lynsey Barron, an attorney with Miller & Martin, the law firm hired by RZIM to conduct the investigation.
I spoke with Barron on a conference call Tuesday, November 24. Also on the call was William Eiselstein, lead counsel with Miller & Martin—and two private investigators, identified by Barron as Jeffrey Muller and Phil Smith.
The call was arranged because Barron said she was interested in information I had concerning Zacharias. (The information concerned an allegation against Zacharias I never reported because no one with first-hand information was willing to speak with me.)
Some have questioned whether Miller & Martin’s investigation is truly independent or controlled by RZIM. As Boz Tchvidjian—founder of Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.)—notes, law firms hired to conduct “independent” investigations have fiduciary responsibility to their clients. As a result, these investigations are often nothing more than internal inquiries designed to preserve the institution.
I asked Barron at the beginning of our call whether her firm would be publishing the results of its investigation or giving the report to RZIM. Barron replied that the report would go to RZIM, but added that it was her hope that RZIM would publish the unedited report.
Also, before speaking with Barron, I reached out to Lori Anne Thompson, the woman at the center of the sexting scandal with Zacharias. I asked Thompson if anyone from Miller and Martin had contacted her. Thompson said no one had.
I asked Barron why she hadn’t contacted Thompson. Barron replied that RZIM had specified that the scope of her firm’s investigation was limited to allegations that Zacharias had sexually harassed women at day spas Zacharias co-owned.
I contacted RZIM for comment but they did not respond.
However, the information Barron requested of me was not directly related to the spa allegations. So, I asked Barron why her firm was interested in my information and not the information Lori Anne Thompson could provide, but Barron did not answer my question.
I also noted that one of the alleged spa victims claimed that Zacharias had requested explicit photos from her, which was similar to the pattern of behavior Thompson had described.
According to Thompson, Zacharias groomed her by initiating a close, personal relationship in 2015—2016 and then asking for nude photos and engaging in phone sex. Thompson’s narrative has been corroborated by phone records, gift receipts, and emails obtained and published by The Roys Report in September.
I also asked Barron whether the Zacharias family had released Lori Anne Thompson and her lawyers from the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) they signed to settle Ravi Zacharias’ 2017 lawsuit against Thompson. (According to Tchividjian, who represented Thompson in that case, Thompson signed an NDA with Zacharias in 2017 barring Thompson from speaking about what had happened.)
Barron responded that she had not talked to the Zacharias family.
In RZIM’s October statement announcing its investigation, the executive committee of RZIM’s Board stated that it was “shocked and deeply distressed” by “recently reported allegations” concerning Ravi Zacharias. The statement added that the committee had commissioned Miller & Martin “to investigate this matter to the fullest extent possible.”
In a statement published several weeks earlier, RZIM stated that the sexting allegations had been “independently and rigorously investigated in 2018” by the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA)—the denomination that ordained Zacharias. RZIM further asserted, “There is no evidence that (Zacharias) solicited photos of (Thompson).”
However, following my three-part series on the sexting scandal, and reports by Christianity Today and WORLD, the C&MA announced that it has commissioned a new investigation into Zacharias’ alleged misconduct.
Thompson said that no one from the C&MA, or a firm hired by the C&MA, has contacted her since the new investigation was announced.