Ravi Zacharias RZIM

Betrayed Trust, Part Three: Ravi Zacharias Claimed Accusers in Sexting Scandal Were Extortionists, But Evidence Indicates Otherwise

By Julie Roys

Are Brad and Lori Anne Thompson extortionists who entrapped Ravi Zacharias in a sexting scandal for monetary gain? Or, are they victims of Zacharias—an alleged sexual predator, who preemptively sued them when they tried to hold Zacharias accountable?

This question is central to a 2017 sexting scandal involving Zacharias and Lori Anne Thompson, and evaluating new evidence reported in Parts One and Part Two of this series.  

The new evidence portrays Zacharias as a predator who groomed Lori Anne Thompson so he could exploit her sexually.

Yet a piece of evidence that seemingly contradicts this narrative is a demand letter the couple’s lawyer at the time, Mark Bryant, sent to Zacharias in April 2017.

The letter claimed that Zacharias had “caused irreparable harm to the Thompson family.” And it stated that instead of “protracted and public litigation,” the Thompsons would sign a release of Zacharias and his ministry for “the amount of $5 million dollars.”

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Four months later, Zacharias replied with a federal lawsuit, accusing the Thompsons of “coaxing him into an inappropriate online relationship” as part of a months-long scheme to extort money from him.

Adding to the portrayal of the Thompsons as extortionists, the lawsuit mentioned two incidents from the Thompson’s past.

One, it stated that Brad Thompson had previously sued a pastor and his church, claiming that the pastor had used his position to coerce Mr. Thompson into making “ill-advised loans and investments.” According to Zacharias’ lawsuit,  Thompson dismissed his suit against the pastor in 2010 “after the parties entered into a settlement.”

Secondly, Zacharias’ lawsuit alleged that “sometime after the settlement, the Thompsons began experiencing significant financial distress,” thus providing additional motive for their alleged extortion scheme.

However, a closer examination of these events, and the circumstances around them, casts doubt on the claims in Zacharias’ suit.

The Lawsuit Against Maranatha

In 2008, Brad Thompson, an industrial contractor and business owner, sued Pastor John Visser and Maranatha Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Belleville, Ontario, for almost $1 million in damages.

According to Christianity Today’s 2017 article on the sexting scandal, the lawsuit was dropped. And the “pastor was temporarily suspended, but his church and denomination ultimately stood by him.”

But this isn’t accurate.

Visser’s denomination did not stand by him. They simply gave him a 90-day suspension, rather than deposing him, which was the recommendation of the CRC’s Judicial Code Committee, which investigated Visser in 2012.

The CRC Synod concluded that Visser was “guilty of abuse of the office of a minister.” And regarding the Thompsons, the Synod found that “Pastor Visser abused his office for inappropriate ends and/or self-interest by soliciting and/or allowing a counselee . . . to invest in companies that (Visser) and his family owned.”

Pastor John Visser

Ultimately, the denomination allowed Visser to return to the pastorate, but only after submitting to the denomination’s demand that Visser find outside oversight for his counseling ministry.

I spoke with Brad Thompson about what happened between him and Visser. (Though Brad said he and Lori Anne couldn’t talk about their relationship with Zacharias due to their NDA, he said he and Lori Anne are free to talk about anything else. They also can speak about specific accusations Zacharias made in his 2017 statement about them.)

Brad said both he and Lori Anne came to Christ as adults from broken backgrounds, and were attracted to Visser’s church because of its healing ministry and “heavy shepherding” model. (Lori Anne has written more in-depth about the couple’s experience at her blog.)

Brad said both he and Lori Anne went to Visser for counseling. And Brad said it was in the context of this counseling relationship that Visser coaxed Brad into loaning him money repeatedly.

Over the course of several years, Thompson said he, and companies he owns, loaned about $355,000 to Visser’s two companies, one of which went bankrupt.

Ian deGroot, Thompson’s accountant who used to serve as the treasurer for Maranatha, corroborated Thompson’s story. DeGroot said bankruptcy filings showed Visser’s company owed around $800,000 to about a dozen members of Maranatha or their businesses, including the Thompsons. DeGroot also provided documentation of Thompson’s loans to Visser’s businesses.

Thompson said when he realized that Visser wasn’t going to pay him back, he filed a lawsuit against Visser and the church to try and recoup his money. (Thompson said his lawyer suggested suing for $1 million because plaintiffs normally get half of what they request and Thompson would also incur legal fees.)

Thompson added that he and Visser never reached a settlement as Zacharias’ suit alleged. Instead, Thompson said he dropped the suit because Visser went bankrupt.

Thompson said he could have still pursued the suit against the church and the denomination. But instead, he and Lori Anne decided to work within the CRC denomination to try and bring accountability.

“Significant Financial Distress”

Both Brad Thompson and Ian deGroot laughed when I asked if Thompson was in “significant financial distress” after his alleged “settlement” with his pastor, as Zacharias’ lawsuit alleges.

Similarly, Tamara Battiste, Lori Anne Thompson’s sister, said: “Thompson is a millionaire . . . They do not need money. They have never needed money.”

Tax returns the Thompsons gave show that from 2010—2017, the Thompsons made between $193,000—$552,000 each of those years. In 2017—the year the Thompsons sent the demand letter to Zacharias— the couple made $443,000.

The couple also gave generously to charities and ministries during those years. In 2015, the Thompsons donated more than $102,000 to charity. In 2016 and 2017, the couple donated about $50,000/year to charity.

James Hunt, CEO of UCB Canada—the largest Christian broadcasting network in Canada—said Brad Thompson was one of UCB Canada’s major supporters prior to 2017.

Hunt said Thompson sponsored the airtime for Ravi Zacharias’ radio program on UCB Canada. Hunt said that’s why Thompson was invited to sponsor a table at the luncheon where Brad and Lori Anne met Zacharias.

Over the years, Hunt said he’s gotten to know Thompson well and described him as an “honorable guy” and “someone of integrity.”

Why the Demand Letter?

If the Thompsons weren’t in financial distress, why did they send a demand letter to Zacharias for $5 million?

According to Brad, he and Lori Ann’s motives were to stop Zacharias from preying on other vulnerable women.

“As Lori Anne and I found out more about predation and grooming and the amount of victims that predators have . . . we knew we had a moral responsibility, or a godly responsibility, before the Lord, not to do nothing,” Brad said.

Brad and Lori Anne Thompson
Brad and Lori Anne Thompson

Brad said the couple weighed several options. One, was going directly to the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). However, the couple quickly dismissed the idea because they believed Ravi Zacharias, his wife, and his daughter, Sarah—who’s now CEO of RZIM—were all members of RZIM’s board.

“What kind of accountability is there in a board when it’s all your own family?” Thompson asked.

RZIM no longer publishes the names of its board members. However, in 2014, when RZIM last published an IRS form 990, Zacharias, his wife, and his daughter, Sarah, were on the board. I reached out repeatedly to RZIM, asking who was on its board in 2017, but RZIM did not answer my question.

Thompson said he and Lori Anne also considered going to the New York Times or some other major publication. But the couple decided against it because he said they both were struggling with thoughts of suicide and couldn’t handle the public humiliation that would bring.

However, the couple said they did release their statements to several bloggers because they were confident word wouldn’t spread to their hometown in Ontario.

Yet Thompson said he and Lori Anne both felt the only way to make Zacharias take them seriously was to send the demand letter. He said their lawyer, Mark Bryant, suggested the $5 million figure and the couple trusted his judgment.

Thompson said Bryant argued that someone like Zacharias, with a $30—$40 million ministry, could probably find a donor who would pay $1 million. Plus, in 2017, it was at the height of the #MeToo movement when victims of high-profile figures like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein were receiving large payouts.  

James Hunt of UCB Canada said he had numerous conversations with Brad Thompson around the time of the demand letter and Zacharias’ lawsuit and said he never got the impression that the money mattered to Thompson.

“The only reason he put some kind of price tag on it was so that the claim would be taken seriously rather than just dismissed,” Hunt said. “It was more to create a level of awareness, rather than it just being swept under the carpet. . . . It was that there would be some level of exposure and transparency to the truth and the validity of what happened.”

“I was just so in shock,” Thompson said. “And there’s so much trauma and so much pain.” Yet he added, “We both felt a burden. We knew it could possibly kill us to come forward. But it could possibly kill someone else if we stayed silent.”

UPDATE: On the evening of Friday, September 25, RZIM’s board responded to a Christian Post article summarizing the allegations in this three-part series. The statement by RZIM’s board is below. RZIM has still not identified who sits on its board despite numerous requests:

RZIM Board statement regarding Thompson matter
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97 thoughts on “Betrayed Trust, Part Three: Ravi Zacharias Claimed Accusers in Sexting Scandal Were Extortionists, But Evidence Indicates Otherwise”

  1. Ultimately RZ Is dead so it is impossible to get his side of the story. Granted, the RZIM just as in every Christian Ministry needs accountability and oversight. The bible is clear, in church government and Christian ministry Elders need to press accountability of just about every aspect of a Ministry. Problem happens when a ministry places a bunch of Yes Men or an elder is in place because the Pastor likes him.
    So man lessons are gleaned here. Ultimately a principal is if you are a man in Ministry is to never let your guard down. Do not ever meet with a woman alone or behind closed doors. Always be suspicious of a woman who insist or agrees to any one on one meeting. If you are an elder do not allow any man in your Church to have any physical contact with a woman without you checking on the act afterward. Do not get or let yourself get into any relationship with a woman not your wife or significant partner that you are in a serious relationship with. Always suspect she will come after you if the relationship falters or she feels dismissed.

    IMO, all I can see in this whole debacle is RZ was coaxed in this relationship by a Con Artist couple who have a history of doing similar “Lawsuits”. Unfortunately, we will never know the whole story as RZ is dead and cannot defend himself. The connection with the RZ ministry other than a failure to keep accountability is at most negligible. I doubt that the woman involved in this case was ever harmed or manipulated or exploited. She may have been. But, I don’t see it to a degree that convinces me. It seems this article is more of an underlying beef against RZ and RZIM than anything else

    1. I think you missed the whole point of this particular article, Part 3, which was to address the issue of whether this couple are “con artists.” You are right about accountability – this board needs to answer some serious questions. As far as not knowing the whole story, Zacharias’s defense was presented in court (part 2 of this article, I believe). The whole point is that his defense is not credible.

      This is painful, I’m sure, to Julie and many of us who highly respected Ravi Zacharias. My wife and I read his book, “I Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah,” before our marriage. I’ve recommended that and other Zacharias books to others.

      Ravi Zacharias was a gifted speaker and powerful communicator. But he himself made it clear that the ministry he founded would sink or swim on his personal integrity. It’s why he put his name on the ministry, according to his autobiography. He often told a story about making a presentation and hearing of someone saying on the way home, “I wonder what he’s like in private.” By the standard that Zacharias set for himself, by the biblical standards for Christian leaders, by the standards the Bible sets for believers (“let it not be named among you”), and sadly by even the world’s standards, it appears that Ravi Zacharias lacked integrity.

      I haven’t seen many Christian outlets report other information that’s coming out about Ravi Zacharias, but it’s very disturbing as well. I assume Julie and others are making sure they verify before they publish. But I think at this point we should be concerned about a Christian culture that promotes leaders like this and does not hold them accountable. Ravi’s actions will reverberate and have eternal consequences, both for himself and others. Sweeping this stuff under the rug doesn’t help anybody.

      “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.” 2 Corinthians 7:9

    2. Dirk, let’s assume your take on her pursuing him is accurate {which I don’t believe it is}. With the first flirtatious text or picture, he would have brought others into the situation, to avoid any appearance of impropriety. With every action from him that followed the initial contact, he accuses himself. The guy was messed up, as is your take on the whole sordid affair.

      1. Pastor Bob,
        Dirk is beyond hope, leave him be. I doubt there is any amount of evidence that will ever convince him. He has made up his mind and so unable to engage in the facts.

      2. I agree, Pastor Bob. If Mrs. Thompson initiated any kind of bad behavior, that should have been the end of their communication. Then, he should have referred her to a counselor. There is no excuse, none, for slipping morally as Ravi appeared to do. At the same time, “let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.” 1Cor. 10:12.

    3. “Unfortunately, we will never know the whole story as RZ is dead and cannot defend himself.”
      Would not Ravi’s version of things be contained in the NDA that he and the Thompsons signed? They are asking RZIM to be released from that agreement. This would allow them to speak freely, but would it not afford Ravi the same, albeit posthumously?
      Lori Anne and Brad have had their names dragged through the mud. They have been called swindlers and con artists. Brad accused of being a cuckold and Lori Anne a seductress. They are LIVING with this NOW. Unlike Ravi, they are “here to defend themselves” and yet, they are prohibited from doing so. Why, in your mind, is the reputation of a dead man of more value than the reputation of living, breathing, flesh and blood image bearers trying to navigate this life in the face of such an assault upon their character? Why do you care more for the reputation of your hero than for this brother and sister who continue to suffer injury without the right to a defense?
      The NDA will reveal the truth. The NDA is Ravi’s opportunity to defend himself. IF there is anything defensible about his actions. The Thompson’s willingness to have the contents of the agreement revealed vs. RZIM’s refusal speaks volumes, in my opinion.

    4. Yup, I agree with you, Dirk. Ravi sinned, but first of all, he wasn’t a predator. Why would she reach out to him when every town has counseling centers and medical insurance will pay for counseling. And there are plenty of churches if the questions were theological or spiritual. I find nothing in Parts I-III that counters those things. I don’t know the Thompsons, but I know of people who make a living off lawsuits.

      1. Did you read the article? These people aren’t “making a living off lawsuits.” They made a very nice living on their own. All I can say about this is that there is sufficient evidence outside Lori Anne’s situation that indicates clearly what kind of ethical problems Ravi had — and his board concealed.

        Ravi lied repeatedly about his educational qualifications. That’s indisputable. He lied about his strict observance of the “Billy Graham Rule.” That’s indisputable. And he’s now accused by multiple vulnerable women of sexual assault at the massage establishments he owned.

        These are not small ethical lapses. I’d absolutely lose my job if my board found out that I had lied about my education. Most people in corporate America would be fired immediately if they pulled the stunts Ravi did regarding his resume.

        So I guess my question is, since we know that Ravi was a liar (a serial one at that), and we have multiple allegations that corroborate what kind of sexual indiscretions he was prone to, why on earth would you give him the benefit of the doubt in Lori Anne’s case?

        That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m seriously interested in your reasoning here.

    5. Dirk you haven’t touched on the fact that it is routine and justifiable for people in the Thompson’s position to make these moves in this position, nor on the fact that RZ compounded his misdeeds with malicious high profile lying, nor the crooked dealings of Visser AND his denomination. You are actually weakening the case of the many people on behalf of whom you are evading.

    6. Actually, RZ did come out and defend himself on this. When all this went down, he sent out a letter to all his patrons and prayer partners for RZIM and said that he actually did get involved with this woman by emailing. He said he was an innocent party, he was just trying to help this woman and give her advice and then it turned into her soliciting him and then going out and accusing him of them having a relationship. He completely defended his actions as innocent and it basically seemed like a PR clean-up.

  2. I find it interesting that this is coming out after Zacharias’ death, when he can’t defend himself. It seems like a couple that just wants to benefit in some deplorable way. The time to speak was before he died.

    1. I understand your concern Sandra, but if RZIM had them sign an NDA and then broke it themselves, they were probably worried they were going to get sued to protect his name. And when your opponent takes in roughly 40 mil per year there are some significant resources. But what if the allegations are true Sandra? Should it matter that he’s passed away?

    2. Sandra- he could have defended himself while living. Instead he kept secret the details in an NDA. Were that NDA to be unsealed, Ravi’s version of things would be available for us to judge.
      Don’t kid yourself. The Thompsons are the ones who cannot defend themselves as they are legally prohibited from doing so. Ravi has an army of sycophantic supporters to defend him.

    3. The fact is Sandra most of this did come out before he died, several years before. As many have mentioned. We have known about this story since late 2017. Ravi had more than enough time to deal with this before he passed. He didn’t,

      Julie has been presented with additional, previously unseen material. Which she has now presented, after verifying. That’s called journalism, a rare thing in this day and age. Appreciate it when you see it. No “unnamed sources” here.

      But the fact that he’s dead doesn’t change what he did. Sin has consequences, and just because he was well known doesn’t give him a free pass.

      Truth can not stay buried.

      Also your opinion on when or when not something should be released, really doesn’t matter.

    4. Nonsense, Sandra. Many abuse victims–including those molested by Catholic priests and Jeffrey Epstein–speak out after their perpetrator’s death.

      Do you think those stories should be tossed out as well?

    5. Sandra, i’ll be charitable and assume you didn’t actually read.

      here’s a brief summary: Ravi silenced them with an NDA… which he broke himself, lying to put himself in a good light and as the victim, while portraying this couple as the culprit.

  3. So, THEY coaxed HIM into an inappropriate relationship! No so fast… every man is drawn away of HIS own lust, and enticed! Have to go with the Word on this one!

  4. A couple random thoughts with this story.
    1. I find it so hard to believe that someone could teach the way Ravi did and yet live such a different life. He always told story about Malcolm Muggrage bathing in the river and being attracted to the women but when when she shows her he realizes she has leprosy and Muggrage confronted his own sinfulness. Yet Ravi was doing the same thing?
    2. Many of the other pastors who have been uncovered in recent years showed signs in their public actions and teaching. But then Ravi did mislead about his education, did empower people like Joyce Meyer, and did open up massage parlor (very strange).
    3. I’m wondering how much these allegations coming out now are an effort to hurt those related to Trump? It doesn’t mean they are not true but it seems there is concerted effort to get the dirt on anyone related in any way to Trump. Pence spoke at the memorial service and Kayleigh Machenany was really touched by Ravi’s ministry.

    1. 1. Ted Haggard, Eddie Long, Bill Hybels – the list is long and sad of people who have taught one thing and lived another way. John Adams was amazed when he worked with Ben Franklin in France to find out that the guy who wrote, “Early to bed, early to rise…” partied late and rarely got up before noon.

      2. I agree with this statement. These are all strange things.

      3. I don’t think this has anything to do with Trump. Despite Pence and Machenany speaking about him, I never would have associated Ravi with Trump’s reelection, either for or against. I think he managed to stay above the political fray most of the time.

    2. Too many Christian pastors preach who they wish they were, rather than who they are.

      It’s easier to talk about living right than to live right. Faith without works is dead.

    3. “I’m wondering how much these allegations coming out now are an effort to hurt those related to Trump?”

      J,

      Really? You think this is all about the election?

      Please understand that those incensed by christian leaders conducting themselves with impunity at the expense of others — with no accountability from anemic christian culture –are of all political persuasions.

      It is a horrible commentary on evangelicals that such low integrity standards amongst its leaders have been accommodated and allowed to perpetuate for such a very, very long time.

  5. Thank you again for reporting on these. I am wrestling through the last part of the allegations. I think it is obvious that Ravi is not some innocent bystander who was trying to help. Sin needs to be exposed especially from our leaders. It seems strange that they wanted to hold Ravi accountable but then ask for a 5 million payment privately. It also seems odd to not go to a newspaper because they were afraid of the press but then leak the story to bloggers. Why the secrecy for the payout? Why leak information to bloggers, who do not have the same editorial oversight as a newspaper, but can make a story nationally known?

    I hope that RZIM will respond to these allegations and either own up and repent or provide further clarity and explanation. As Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I do not want to dismiss anything that has happened and these strange decisions does not mean Ravi is not guilty, it just seems very bizarre for their reasons for their demand letter and such.

  6. “However, the couple said they did release their statements to several bloggers because they were confident word wouldn’t spread to their hometown in Ontario.” Really?

    This caught my attention, since nothing posted on the internet, such as a blog, is safe from being spread, and they would have known that.

    “The only reason he put some kind of price tag on it was so that the claim would be taken seriously rather than just dismissed,” Hunt said.

    This statement made me suspicious too. For example, what if Ravi (or his ministry) had very little money? Would there be no reason then to sue? Moreover, what difference does it make how much money Ravi has, if, in fact, his behavior toward Lori Anne was morally inappropriate, which it clearly was.

    Is the biblical solution to the extra-marital affair to extort Ravi and his ministry to give Brad and Lori Anne money to keep them quiet? Would that have “solved” the problem of Brad and Lori Anne’s hurt and distress? This is a moral issue, and a moral failing by both Ravi and Lori Anne. So why would money even come into play at all? I agree that Ravi bears the weight of the moral failing here, but again, how would getting money from Ravi solve the problem?

    “Brad said the couple weighed several options. One, was going directly to the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). However, the couple quickly dismissed the idea because they believed Ravi Zacharias, his wife, and his daughter, Sarah—who’s now CEO of RZIM—were all members of RZIM’s board.”

    Again, why should this matter? If only getting money to keep Ravi quiet was the goal, then yes, I can understand why Brad and Lori Anne didn’t go this route. But I would think the ultimate goal should have been: 1) exposure, in order to protect future victims, and 2) seeking an apology from Ravi for his inappropriate behavior. Certainly, informing Ravi’s wife and daughter would have been a good place to start, right? Obviously this news would have been a shock to them.

    If, as a last resort, and only if RZIM chose to ignore Brad and Lori’s letter (with no financial extortion involved), then there’s always the option of going to a prominent Christian publication or a secular news publication to expose Ravi in order to protect future victims.

    Julie, as smart and sharp as you are, I’m surprised that you seem to be supportive of Brad and Lori Anne’s attempts to extort money from Ravi and his ministry for a “moral” failing. Please correct me if you are, in fact, not supportive of it. Brad and Lori Anne didn’t need Ravi’s money. What they needed was to expose Ravi and to seek an apology from him.

    Again, this is NOT to dismiss or downplay Ravi’s actions and behavior in this sordid mess. He does seem guilty, and the evidence seems clear. Also, the whole spa / massage parlor business venture was completely ridiculous, and I’m surprised that anyone in Ravi’s circle would have supported him in that. What a foolish venture for a Christian ministry to get involved with.

      1. Julie, thanks for your reply.

        The two statements below appear to tilt the story in support of Brad Thompson, but I also understand it’s possible they do not.

        “James Hunt of UCB Canada said he had numerous conversations with Brad Thompson around the time of the demand letter and Zacharias’ lawsuit and said he never got the impression that the money mattered to Thompson.”

        “Over the years, Hunt said he’s gotten to know Thompson well and described him as an “honorable guy” and “someone of integrity.”

        1. I’m very encouraged that Brad and Lori Anne have come forward with this info. Their experience had to have been incredibly devastating (and probably still is and will be for some time), and the strength and courage to come forward when they probably had some inkling of the pushback they would get makes me proud. Julie, thanks for providing a platform of accountability for people like Ravi who previously have had no one call them to account. Your reporting gives me hope; and Brad and Lori Anne, you are heroes!

      1. Bonnie, I understand that. But I don’t understand why money needed to factor into any of this. This was a deep moral failing on Ravi’s part, therefore getting money from him (or his ministry) wasn’t going to solve the problem. Moreover, there was no biblical grounds to extort money from Ravi or RZIM. What was needed was exposure of Ravi’s actions, as well as seeking an apology from him.

        1. Daniel, the demand is not extortion, it is the normal professionally-supported strategy to obtain exactly exposure and apology and what will in practice turn out a nominal sum. Not only the Bible but common law round the globe provides for this. The verse about not going to law certainly doesn’t stretch to when it is reasonable to assess that “channels” will not be adequate. In daresay RZ wouldn’t pick on his own employees?

          The powerful family members of RZ surely knew of the crooked dealings in the Vissers’ former denomination. How could they have egged him on in this calumny?

          1. CJ, as you can tell from my comments throughout this post, I am not defending Ravi or his ministry. But I stand by my main point that money didn’t need to be a part of any of this. Brad and Lori Anne merely needed to expose Ravi, as well as seek an apology from him. They didn’t need, nor should have asked for, any money. Period.

            You mentioned the “normal professionally-supported strategy.” However, 1 Corinthians chapter 6 discourages lawsuits among believers.

          2. Daniel, you mention that the Bible discourages lawsuits. But the NDA Ravi pressured Lori Anne into leverages a lawsuit as an enforcement mechanism.

    1. Daniel thank you for this response. This is my thinking too. I believe there is obvious moral failing here on Ravi Zacharias and I’m not defending him in anyway. However, this couple handled the situation very oddly. Nothing is safe online (seriously though nothing. How is that not known by adults yet?) and the $5 million dollar pay out seems an odd way to want to bring justice to the situation. At very least, it sends a ripe excuse for Ravi to claim extortion.

      1. MS, Victims often behave “oddly” as they process the aftermath of their abuse. This is not relevant to whether or not the abuse occurred.

        One of the things that allows abuse to continue is when we require perfection on the part of victims (in their memory and behavior) while bring comparatively little challenge to MUCH larger problems in the behavior of the perpetrator.

        An example of that is how many people in this comment section want to question Lori Anne’s previous lawsuit, or the exact circumstances of the demand letter, while completely ignoring the MULTIPLE allegations of sexual abuse and lying in Ravi’s history.

        Serial abusers take advantage of this imbalance by seeking out ‘flawed’ victims who they know can be easily portrayed in a bad light if the abuse is revealed.

        Christians must become much more wise about our response to sexual abuse, seeking to love and heal victims as Jesus did.

  7. This article does a great job of debunking the nonsensical defense RZ gave of his innocence, in which he even had the gall to try to portray himself as a duped victim, in his 2017 statement published by CT, which aided him in this abusive deception by not looking into the fuller background of the previous lawsuit against Pastor Visser and the other pertinent info presented here. The rich and powerful like RZ, along with his family-controlled organization, will spin whatever lies necessary to try to protect their shattered reputation once light is shown on their dark deeds.

    RZIM must come clean about what they knew and when about RZ through a truly independent investigation, as well as become transparent about their leadership and salaries, or else close down before they do more hypocritical damage to God’s kingdom.

  8. There is some info missing, I know that there was a thorough investigation by Ravi’s credentialing ministry. The truth hardly ever is one side or other.

      1. Paul, it was the Christian and Missionary Alliance where Zacharias has held his credentials for years (first in the Canadian organization and then in the American). Their official verdict was “the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.” It is possible that due to the NDA there was not much “available evidence.”
        https://www.cmalliance.org/news/2018/03/05/public-statement-on-accusations-against-ravi-zacharias/

        1. Interesting. I wonder what type or degree of evidence would provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy? If he admitted to engaging in this type of behavior, whether “coaxed” or not, that would seem to provide the basis for discipline. Curious response on their part.

        2. Would feet say to other parts, all be feet? CMA and RZIM are in similar mould as to doctrine. What ghoul can offer a moralising “gospel” to a boy on his overdose bed (however good his parents’ motives)? Let the Swiss and the Swedes do their thing in their own countries where they know how to not unbalance anyone. What apologetic arguments has RZ actually been offering?

  9. It seems to me that most everyone is trying to defend one party and accuse the other… Both parties were wrong. Ravi allowed himself to sinfully dream about somebody else’s wife. That lady and her husband dreaming about exploiting this reality and cashing in $5 million! Their fanciful explanation about why they chose that path is childish. And the desire to believe a woman just because she is a woman is contrary to what the Scriptures call impartiality.

  10. Way too many loose ends here. I fully agree with RZ’s impropriety. Again, a strong reason for proper accountability. So many have fallen. However, it appears that Lori has been painted as the victim. No one was holding a gun to her head, or forcing her to do anything. There’s “darkness” on both sides.

    1. The “both sides” argument fails for a couple of reasons. First of all, Lori Anne Thompson has admitted her part, repented, and taken the hard path of reconciliation and restoration. I don’t see her covering up her part. I see shame, but thankfully that she’s experienced forgiveness as well. I don’t see any such admission coming from Ravi Zacharias … he apologized for allowing the “appearance of impropriety.” We’re far beyond “appearance” and “impropriety” here.

      But the other reason it fails is because, “unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” “I would not that ye be many teachers.” There is, justly, a very high standard for teachers and leaders in the Church. Ravi Zacharias was a minister of the gospel, accountable to a church body; he was a worldwide evangelist, accountable to a parachurch ministry. He counted among his friends many key leaders in the body of Christ. And somehow, all of those structures, those people appear to have failed to properly and appropriately deal with his moral failure when enough details were known.

      Ravi Zacharias is dead, and after that, the judgment (as it is for all of us). This is not about him anymore, but about an existing culture that excuses sin in talented teachers.

      1. “Ravi Zacharias is dead, and after that, the judgment (as it is for all of us). This is not about him anymore, but about an existing culture that excuses sin in talented teachers.”

        Tim –

        it is also about human beings whose reputation was harmed by someone in power (who lied about them to benefit himself) to be able to speak for themselves and represent themselves.

    2. Jack, Lori Anne has taken responsibility. Ravi never did. His organization, which covered for him, never has. So even if the two are equal partners in this, Lori’s ahead on the scorecard. She was repentant, he was not.

      But of course they’re not equally culpable. James clearly says that “Not many of you should become teachers, for we know that teachers will be judged more strictly.”

      And there’s an almost universal consensus among Church leaders that sexual contact between clergy and parishioners constitutes serious clerical misconduct.

      Furthermore, it’s illegal in 16 American states for a counselor to have sex with clients, even if both parties considered it consensual.

      The only people who question whether a pastor has a higher level of responsibility for moral rectitude — especially when it comes to sexual contact with one of their flock — are people who aren’t willing to hold pastors to account at all.

  11. Julie, thank you for reporting on this. Will there be a part four?

    I’m inclined to believe the Thompsons and feel victims should get the benefit of the doubt as these situations can cloud judgment and ability to recall. That said, there are some questions still that I would hope can be addressed.

    High income and large donations do not preclude financial distress. It is possible to make a lot of money and to spend/donate too much or to be significantly in debt. See James MacDonald as an example of someone who has earned a lot but is not in a solid financial position.

    To me, the easiest explanation to the unfortunate optics here, if in fact the Thompsons are the victims and to be believed, which as noted I am inclined to do, is that the Thompsons have had poor representation. While we all know, from this site in particular, that attorneys have a fiduciary duty to clients, lawyers also do not want to work for free, which can lead to conflicts of interest and potential mismanagement of cases.

    In the first case with Visser, I haven’t heard of selecting an amount that wasn’t based on actual losses plus damages and/or attorneys fees. More typically there is an amount (losses + damages) + fees, with fees left uncapped but subject to the courts. Surely there is documentation to substantiate the amount of money the Thompsons invested and lost. I’m not familiar with the Canadian statutes, but in the U.S. I believe you are entitled to treble damages in such a case. What is the law in Canada? Why pick $1 million when there is a more accurate amount?

    In the second case with Zacharias, I expect the attorneys were anticipating payment of a portion of the $5 million demanded. A demand letter itself is relatively inexpensive and could be easily paid for out-of-pocket by the Thompsons given their income and lack of financial distress, especially if the demand letter is a request to cease and desist from contacting Lori Anne. I find it unlikely that the Thompsons’ counsel would advise that $5 million would make Zacharias take the request seriously without also anticipating how it could or would be positioned by Zacharias as attempted extortion, which is a defense par for the course in these cases. Additionally, I find it unusual that no other legal responses were filed (e.g. a motion by Thompsons’ attorneys to dismiss the case or a countersuit) given the evidence available and the public nature of Zacharias’ civil suit.

    Lastly, I am interested in how the NDA was structured such that Zacharias could supposedly violate it with impunity, assuming his statement did in fact violate the NDA. Given the public nature of this issue, I am surprised that such an agreement would not include provisions releasing the other party should one party violate the terms or requiring one party to retract a statement or pay damages if a violation were to occur. It doesn’t sound like the attorneys that the Thompsons had review the NDA were thorough.

    1. Danny exceedingly good points about the lawyers for the Thompsons who were relative nobodies in a multinational cesspool. What country was RZ based in to pick on that woman from?

    2. Absolutely the right points to be making.

      My guess is when the Thompsons got sued, they got very scared. That’s an intimidating complaint to receive if you’re two people with little familiarity with the U.S. legal process (the complaint names violations of the racketeering statute, etc.) and not very deep pockets. Nixon Peabody is a Vault 100 Firm–i.e. one that charges a lot by the hour. They staffed the case with at least three lawyers. I can tell you from firsthand experience, law firms like that don’t represent people if the fees aren’t discussed on the front end. Someone from RZIM was paying the bills and paid a lot of money for this complaint to get drafted, filed and served.

      I expect the $5 million demand was an attempt at “shock and awe” on the part of the Thompsons’ lawyer. Clearly that backfired. However, it’s usual puffery from plaintiffs lawyers who know they and their clients will walk away happy with 10-15% of the original demand. It’s not crazy for the lawyer to have thought he might have gotten a settlement of $250,000-500,000 and assume that RZIM and co. would want this to go away.

      It’s a very bizarre and sad situation. Prayers for all involved, and for myself, that I may not be a voyeur.

      1. Perhaps the Thompsons were scared when they were served with the civil suit, but the demand letter sent to Zacharias gave a 30 day deadline to pay $5,000,000. What happened when the 30 days elapsed and no payment was received?

        It doesn’t seem like the Thompsons’ attorneys followed through with their threats to file a suit (no reporters have mentioned one), so was the demand letter a bluff? Or were the Thompsons engaged in ongoing negotiations with Zacharias while his counsel prepared its own suit?

        Maybe the Thompsons were scared when they got sued, but I have a hard time imagining that. What did they expect after no payment was received?

        Another question is why Zacharias didn’t pursue criminal remedies for the purported behavior of Lori Anne, which was, if Zacharias is to be believed, possibly criminal? Sending unwanted explicit images is harassment and I’m certain is a crime of some sort now, if not then. And showing up at an individual’s office and home address? Personally, if I was receiving unwanted explicit images from an individual who also appeared at my place of business and home, I would seek legal relief via restraining orders and consider pursuing criminal charges.

        Very strange. And you are right, more important for us to tend to our own lives than speculate about what may have transpired here.

    3. “In the first case with Visser, I haven’t heard of selecting an amount that wasn’t based on actual losses plus damages and/or attorneys fees. ”
      ++++++++++++++

      this is unfamiliar to you? start high, and after much back & forth something will be settled in the middle.

      1. No, the concept of “meeting in the middle” is not unfamiliar to me, but in this specific context it is. BD’s comment below helpfully links to a site with information on damages in Canadian civil litigation. The site is quite informative for Canada.

        From my perspective, with Visser, it would have made more sense to sue for compensatory (“actual”) or restitutionary damages of $355,000 (the amount loaned) + some lost return / interest on the $355,000 + attorneys fees rather than sue for $1,000,000 and hope the amount paid covered the actual losses. If someone swindled me out of $10,000, I wouldn’t sue for $30,000, right? It wouldn’t be fair for the courts to award me more than I had actually lost.

        With Zacharias or any other similar case, where there is no clear monetary value on the harm done, there is much more flexibility with an amount demanded, so a number can certainly be selected to anchor high with the expectation that a smaller amount is awarded or obtained via settlement. There is no clear price for the damage done though there are precedents. So $5,000,000 is more understandable.

        Also worth noting, that while still inclined to believe the Thompsons, if your case is not strong, sometimes high caliber law firms will assess that during the initial conversations and decline to take you on as a client. Lawyers don’t want cases they don’t think they can win. That said, having an expensive law firm does not mean that you are without guilt, either.

        It doesn’t make sense to me how individuals who run their own business and have such high incomes would have selected a small personal injury law firm in this instance. But I guess victims do not need to always make sense or have perfect stories. In fact, they are often targeted because people will doubt their narratives. These situations don’t have to make sense.

  12. IF it is true RZ threatened suicide, then I know which side of this “she said/he said” I fall on. You falsely accuse me, suicide is the last thing I think of.

    1. Steve M, no question about it. Of all the evidence against Ravi, his threat of suicide let the cat out of the bag regarding his guilt in this.

    2. Agreed. Healthy relationships are composed of people who would fight back, set boundaries etc., if falsely accused.

      This is a classic ‘look what you’ll make me do’ suicide threat, sadly common in dysfunctional relationships, and all too common in abusive relationships. It’s manipulative, blame the victim behavior, designed to silence and control the other person (Lori Anne) who stated she was going to accept responsibility, repent, come clean, get counselling and hopefully restore her marriage.

  13. I reckon it would be a megabummer if Ravi Zacharias were resurrected, caught Covid-19, and spent 200 days in an intensive care unit on and off a ventilator only to finally simply die again.

    1. Because the Thompsons are deferential which is sometimes a virtue. That they misplaced it narrowed their practical options but it doesn’t strengthen any moral case against them. They are victims of the Visser denomination’s fake doctrines (which probably don’t look any different from any other denomination’s).

      1. It just seems a bit odd to me. How is signing a NDA and taking money deferential? (I don’t necessarily question their version of the story – it is quite well documented – but this piece seems rather self-serving).

        1. Or perhaps merely angry?
          At how Lori Anne had been treated and slandered and at Ravi’s double-dealing and hypocrisy?

          Jesus’ anger was expressed at the hypocritical religious leaders of his day.
          Perhaps that is what Lori Anne and Brad felt as well as they filed a suit that might somehow make Ravi feel or acknowledge his sin.

    2. I would guess it was just a financial disparity. The Thompsons knew they did not have the resources Ravi had. They also likely saw that Ravi had held no punches when he picked a top law firm in the US, while they had a small town lawyer on their side. They likely realized at that point they had no other choice that to take the settlement and awful NDA offered by RZIM.

  14. I never reply to your stories but it appears this is one sided slandering of one who cannot defend himself. It appears you make assumptions based on this couples integrity. But it appears Ravi is not given that privalge. What ever happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty by a court of your peers. I see you and your readers are judge and jury. What a distressing blog. I suppose Jesus really did father a baby girl with Mary. To bad Julie you weren’t there to get the real scoop.

    1. “Innocent until PROVEN guilty” is the standard for criminal court, Steph. That does not apply here.

      The biblical standard for accusations an elder is in I Timothy 5:

      “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder, except on the testimony of two or three witnesses. But those who persist in sin should be rebuked in front of everyone, so that the others will stand in fear of sin.”

      Ravi’s sexual misconduct has been established on the testimony of more than two witnesses.
      His sin is now being rebuked so that others will stand in fear.
      This is exactly as the Bible instructs.

    2. “I suppose Jesus really did father a baby girl with Mary. To bad Julie you weren’t there to get the real scoop.”

      Steph, you’re bordering on blasphemy here. Take Jesus’ name out of your mouth: he didn’t sexually abuse vulnerable women who he employed at his massage businesses; Ravi did. He didn’t repeatedly and serially (and indisputably) lie about his academic qualifications; Ravi did. We don’t have emails from him threatening suicide when a woman threatens to tell her husband about their illicit affair; we have those for Ravi.”

      And we’re not talking about an unsubstantiated conspiracy written thousands of years after the fact by unknown authors. We’re talking about a well-substantiated relationship and the personal testimony of a woman who was not only a party to the relationship, but who is also begging for permission to reveal the whole truth and is being prevented from doing so by an ill-considered NDA.

      Don’t pretend that Ravi was never given an opportunity to tell his side of the story: he did everything he could while he was alive to conceal evidence about the relationship. And he never repented of his well-established lies, despite being begged to do so by people attempting to get him to tell the truth.

  15. I don’t believe in Ravi Zacharias
    I don’t believe in Jimmy Swaggart
    I don’t believe in James MacDonald
    I don’t believe in most preachers
    I don’t believe in the left wing
    I don’t believe in the right wing
    I don’t believe in Mohammad
    I don’t believe in Pelicans
    I don’t believe in Buddha
    I don’t believe in Mantra
    I don’t believe in Gita
    I don’t believe in Yoga
    I don’t believe in Kings
    I don’t believe in Elvis
    I don’t believe in Zimmerman

    I do believe in God the Father
    I do believe in God the Son
    I do believe in God the Holy Spirit

    And that’s reality.

  16. Likely there are two parties who can’t (or couldn’t) be honest with themselves. One party about the lust (sexual, reputation) and the other party about the lust. (sexual, money).
    Ps 139:23a says “Search me, O God, and know my heart” which must be a request to make one’s heart known to themselves, since the Lord already knows all about every bit of it.

  17. Our small group just finished up a great series on the Book of Judges – those last 5 chapters…Wow, Micah making an idol of himself…. One of the important parts of Julie’s ministry is helping our “blinded eyes” see how these large Christian ministries and churches are causing men and women (who would not normally lean this way) to build these huge monstrosities that take millions of dollars to keep up and running. It would be so easy to justify “fudging” or “not revealing everything” because you think that the ministry is so important and needed by the Lord for His Kingdom. I too have been culpable in putting these men on pedestals and never questioning their decisions. The NDA bothers me no end and then to hear that these ministries do not believe they are compelled to share who their board members are, is just sick and a glaring signal that “the greed of man” has crept in and is the “man pulling the strings behind the curtain.”

  18. Haven’t the Thompsons heard of The Peacemaker book by Ken Sande? Why didn’t they follow Biblical principles of peacemaking instead of suing for $5M? (Maybe because LA wasn’t into acting according to the Bible anyway).They make it sound altruistic: we had to save other women from Ravi and the only way open was to sue for $5M. Don’t blame their attorney because he gets half. Ravi was wrong for sure, but something doesn’t pass the smell test on the Thompson side.

    1. If you’re so concerned about Biblical principals, Godith, here are the principals that apply to Razi:

      ““Do not entertain an accusation against an elder, except on the testimony of two or three witnesses. But those who persist in sin should be rebuked in front of everyone, so that the others will stand in fear of sin.”

      Two or three witnesses having confirmed Ravi’s sexual sin–and his persistence in it in spite of being given opportunity to repent–he is now being rebuked before everyone.

  19. I am not defending Ravi, IMO he should have never been that involved with a women with no oversight. However I see some questionable statements in defending Lori. The statement that they had no money problems because they made close to $500,000 on year. They also made less than $200,000 another year. Without knowing their expenses/ assets no one knows if they had money problems.

    Also you accused Ravi of being manipulative because he said he was suicidal. However Lori and her husband claimed they had to file a law, instead of talking to a major publication, because they were suicidal.

    I think the whole truth will never be known.

  20. Are you saying that Lori Anne had no choice but to allow herself to be abused by Ravi? And that Ravi had no choice but to abuse Lori? And that the Thompsons had no Biblical means to hold Ravi accountable but to demand $5 million.

  21. Usually in a conflict between two parties there are three sides: One party’s side, the other party’s side and then the truth. Rather than attempt to litigate the issues, may this sad episode be an encouragement to all of us to honor our Lord by how we live our lives.

    Having read Ravi’s attorney’s lawsuit brief, one interesting contradiction arises that the their brief states several times that Ravi is not a pastor and RZIM is not a church. Yet, RZIM has not filed Federal form 990 for several years because they contend before the IRS that RZIM is a church. Which is it, RZIM?

  22. From Part I – III, we simply have to trust the Thompsons to be the most holy saints who were given a heavenly mandate to rescue women from Ravi, a monstrous sex addict whose whole game in life was to look for women like Mrs. to satisfy his addiction. This mandate included 5 millions too!

    Ravi, oh Ravi, why in the name of humanity did you not see what was coming and kept on communicating??? Maybe you thought, you had this supernatural ability to turn around anyone’s life who came to you for advice. You thought you had all the knowledge in the world to offer to anyone that needed it. You must be thinking of using this episode as an inspiring illustration in some of your talks as how a woman came to you and you rescued her from the brink of suicide.

    You fool, you should have known better to be a human, not some divine. Maybe pride had gotten inside your head and you proved Thomas Aquinas right: “to save a man from the most dangerous sin, God will allow you to fall in the most shameful sin.”

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