“It would be near impossible that this was the first time that R has fallen in this capacity for the first time at seventy years old; it will not be the last, no matter how much he defends otherwise.
“I am coming forward with this information . . . To honour God by telling the truth and doing justice. Silence only helps the perpetrators, never the victims.”
So wrote Lori Anne Thompson about Ravi Zacharias in a letter dated December 27, 2016, which was obtained by The Roys Report last week.
Thompson is the Canadian woman accused by Zacharias in 2017 of sending “unwanted” nude pictures to the late apologist in an attempt to extort him. (Zacharias died on May 19, 2020.)
Yet according to the letter, the nude photos were not only wanted by Zacharias; they were invited. And they were the culmination of months of emails, phone calls, gifts, and other advances by a man who “sensed” Thompson’s “deficit and used it to his own end.”
As reported in Part One of this series, both Thompson and her husband, Brad, signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Zacharias in 2017. And even though Zacharias reportedly broke that agreement, the Thompsons have not spoken publicly because of the NDA. The Thompsons told me earlier this year that they feared if they broke the NDA, Zacharias (and now his heirs) might sue them.
However, Lori Anne’s 2016 letter was written and sent by the Thompsons to third parties before the Thompsons signed the NDA with Zacharias. Brad Thompson also reportedly wrote and sent a letter at the same time, which was given to me in a single PDF document with Lori Anne’s letter.
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The third parties never published the letters and the letters have remained secret until now.
Last week, the letters came to me through a trusted source and I have confirmed their authenticity with the Thompsons’ counselors, Jerry and Denise Basel, who also have a copy of the letters.
I sent the letters to RZIM for comment last week, but RZIM has not responded.
The Roys Report also has obtained numerous documents corroborating the narrative in the Thompsons’ letters. These include Lori Anne Thompson’s cell phone records, showing numerous calls to and from Zacharias, as well as shipping receipts of gifts from Zacharias to Lori Anne.
The documents were sent to me by Lori Anne’s sister, Tamara Battiste, a former missionary and critical care nurse in North Carolina. Battiste said Thompson gave her the documents four years ago in case something happened to Thompson.
Battiste said she is releasing the documents now “because I want to see my sister freed from the shame and the torment of being painted as the perpetrator in this scenario. It’s time.”
On May 21, 2020—two days after Zacharias’ death—Thompson posted a video to her blog, pleading with the Zacharias family to release her from her NDA. Thompson said she signed the NDA “under excruciating circumstances” and that she and her husband “have nothing that we do not wish disclosed.”
Thompson said to date, she has received no response from the Zacharias family to her request.
The Early Stages
The Thompsons wrote in their letters that they met Zacharias at a businessman’s luncheon in 2014 where Zacharias spoke.
Brad Thompson said he had sponsored a table at the luncheon, adding that Zacharias was “a hero” to him, and he “was very proud” to have a picture taken with Zacharias between him and his wife at the event.
Lori Anne wrote that at the meeting, Zacharias suggested the three stay in touch and directed his assistant to get the Thompson’s contact information and give them his.
This led to subsequent email correspondence, which Lori Anne wrote was intermittent at first. She added that the emails between her and Zacharias initially included Brad. Zacharias asked both of them about their stories, she wrote, but “Brad is not much for communication and did not ever follow through with (Zacharias’) interest.”
Lori Anne, on the other hand, wrote that she slowly began sharing her life with Zacharias. This included stories about her childhood and the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she had suffered at the hands of her father.
As a result of the abuse, Thompson wrote she had “one place where heartache has reigned, where the past has constantly crept into the present to haunt, hunt and deeply hurt. I have longed to be loved like someone’s daughter. It is safe to say that my daughterhood and my body have always been literally and figuratively up for grabs.”
Over time, Thompson wrote that she and Zacharias, who’s more than 30 years her senior, developed a relationship “in which I felt honoured and delighted in. This was nourishment to a very deep place in me. . . . I trusted him, his experience was vast, his opinion important, his favour and friendship an unspeakable gift to me.”
In June of 2015, Thompson wrote that Zacharias invited her and Brad to join him at a fundraising event in Toronto. The night before, she wrote that the couple ate dinner with Zacharias and his wife. “It seemed that our friendship was flourishing,” Thompson wrote. (Zacharias mentioned this dinner in his 2017 statement to Christianity Today, but said the dinner was after the event, not before.)
“Shift to Secrecy”
In her letter, Thompson said that she couldn’t imagine why someone like Zacharias would be taking such an interest in her. She wrote that she emailed Zacharias in October 2015, asking him what he was getting out of the relationship.
The letter states that in his response, which Zacharias asked Thompson to keep confidential, Zacharias divulged that his marriage was “more of a business partnership” and that “he was profoundly alone.” Thompson wrote that Zacharias added that her “emails were a connection and a kindness that he enjoyed immensely.”
At that point, Thompson wrote that she felt a “shift to secrecy” and didn’t share Zacharias’ email with her husband.
In January of 2016, Lori Anne wrote that Zacharias professed his love for her during a phone call. (In Zacharias’ lawsuit against the Thompsons, Zacharias claims that Lori Anne expressed her love for Zacharias “and then began making sexually suggestive statements.”)
“I couldn’t believe what I had heard . . .” Thompson writes. “I distinctly remember thinking—I wanted you to love me like a daughter.” Yet Thompson said she didn’t reject Zacharias. “To reject him would be to destroy the intimate fatherly friendship we had, the one I had longed for my whole life. I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t.”
Thompson said Zacharias requested that she begin using a BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) app for iPhone to communicate with him for “his safety and protection.” Calls initiated from the BBM app are not traceable.
According to cell phone records Thompson’s sister, Tamara Battiste, sent to me, Zacharias called Thompson twice from his cell phone in February 2016. (A separate, independent background check on Zacharias confirmed the cell phone number belonged to him.)
It also shows an outgoing call from Thompson to Zacharias’ cell phone on February 10. That call was at 11:34 a.m. and lasted 7 minutes. At 11:41 a.m.—immediately after the previous call ended—Thompson received a call noted in the call records as “INCOMING ZZ,” which lasted 35 minutes.
Thompson’s sister, Tamara Battiste, claimed that all calls designated “INCOMING ZZ” were from Zacharias’ encrypted BlackBerry. She said often these calls would be requests to contact Zacharias through the BBM app on Thompson’s phone.
I called Thompson’s cell phone company, Telus, and asked what the code “INCOMING ZZ” means. A representative said “ZZ” is the code used for incoming calls that are not recognized by Caller ID.
Sexting & Phone Sex
Thompson wrote that Zacharias would ask what she’s wearing when they’d communicate, and Thompson would send him a picture of her with her clothes on. Zacharias called these photos “his vitamins for the day,” she wrote.
According to Thompson’s letter, Zacharias then asked for a photo of her with her jacket off and one in her “night clothes.”
“I stupidly shared that I did not wear night clothes,” Thompson wrote, “which is . . . what led to the first photos being sent without clothes on. Still, I covered up my breast with my arm and hid my pubic area with my legs.”
She said Zacharias also expressed that he wanted to meet in person for “an intimate sexual encounter.” “Since we were ‘in love,’ it would be one time at least, for ‘the heart,’” she recounted.
Thompson wrote that Zacharias called her in March 2016 when her family was in Florida and the two engaged in “sex over the phone.” Thompson wrote that she “was overwhelmed by his words,” adding that she is “terribly ashamed now” about the encounter and finds it the “hardest part to process.”
Thompson’s cell phone records show several, short incoming calls from Zacharias’ cell phone throughout March.
However, there are eight short “INCOMING ZZ” calls to Thompson’s cell phone in Florida from March 16—March 25. There’s also one call from Thompson to Zacharias’ cell phone.
Thompson wrote that she sent the first “full nudes” to Zacharias via BBM on or near the time of his 70th birthday.
“In this circumstance, as in all future times,” she wrote, “pictures flowed one way—from me to him. He acknowledged that it was something that I did for him, that it was not for me and he was very grateful.”
Thompson said Zacharias sent her gifts of two necklaces with crosses on them and two scarves from India around this time.
This is corroborated by a shipment invoice I received dated May 12, 2016, and apparently signed by Zacharias.
Thompson’s cell phone records show four incoming calls from Zacharias’ cell phone in April and May, each 17—20 minutes long.
Thompson said after each sexual encounter, “shame washed over me like a tidal wave.” Several times, Thompson said she and Zacharias decided to stop communicating through his BlackBerry Messenger.
Yet she writes: “Each time I deleted the app from my phone only to reload it at his request. This went on for an extended period of time. I was deeply enmeshed with him.”
“Groomed” & Exploited
Near the end of October, 2016, Thompson wrote that she told her sister, who’s a survivor of sexual abuse, about her relationship with Zacharias. Thompson wrote that her sister immediately told Thompson that Zacharias had “groomed” her.
“I rejected this idea wholesale,” Thompson said. “I didn’t even know what grooming was.”
Battiste remembers well when Thompson confided in her and said she was “flabbergasted” when she heard Thompson describe the relationship. She said the relationship seemed very predatory and “wrong on so many levels.”
She said it sounded like the relationship began as more of a parent-child relationship. But after Zacharias confessed his love to Thompson, Battiste said Thompson began to think, “This is what love is. . . . She really wasn’t able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy,” Battiste said.
A week later, Thompson wrote that she traveled to Georgia for an “intensive” with Christian counselors, Jerry and Denise Basel. During their time together, Thompson wrote that the Basels had her watch a movie called Trust, a film about a teenage girl who is slowly lured into sexual abuse with someone she meets online.
“I watched with unabashed bewilderment; completely recoiled inside,” Thompson wrote. “It was plain to see that it was not her fault. He groomed her.”
While Thompson conceded that she is “old enough to not be innocent in such matters,” she added: “I didn’t even really know what grooming was . . . my father had always been so stupid and so blatant. R on the other hand was so intelligent, inviting, kind and loving. I suppose it doesn’t matter which way you were devoured, whether ripped off in pieces by a stupid illiterate savage, or eloquently eaten by an intellectual; slowly enough to enjoy it.”
“I suppose it doesn’t matter which way you were devoured, whether ripped off in pieces by a stupid illiterate savage, or eloquently eaten by an intellectual; slowly enough to enjoy it.”
Thompson concludes in her letter that Zacharias’ conduct “was at minimum unbecoming of a global Christian leader, at worst it is full on predatory behavior and clergy sexual abuse.”
Thompson reportedly wrote her letter about two months after she told her husband about the illicit relationship and received emails from Zacharias threatening suicide. (Those were published in Part One of this series.)
Thompson references events in her letter and adds that since then, she and Brad “have been trying to process the betrayal of trust.”
In a separate letter, written on the same day as Lori Anne’s and addressed “To whom it may concern,” Brad talks about his own trauma. He wrote that Lori Ann’s revelations about her and Zacharias were shocking to him, especially given his history with Lori Anne.
He wrote that the couple’s first kiss was at the altar. And in 13 years of marriage, Lori Anne “has been the upmost of sexual purity.”
In the letter, Brad recounts that when Lori Anne told him about her relationship with Zacharias and the nude photos, “I went from wanting to leave my beloved to killing myself.”
He said when he learned that Zacharias first asked for nudes from his wife on his 70th birthday, he wanted to vomit.
“I don’t know what each of you got Ravi for his birthday,” he wrote, “but my wife’s body and soul was on his wish list and she was unable to say no.”
“I don’t know what each of you got Ravi for his birthday but my wife’s body and soul was on his wish list and she was unable to say no.”
Near the end of the letter, Brad states that the cost of meeting Zacharias “has been devastating. For two months our children have watched their parents be destroyed. Barely able to parent, having to fly out three different times for counselling for days all the while having no idea what happened to their once stable home. Both Lori Anne and I unsure sometimes if the other will return alive.”
Unlike the emails between Brad and Zacharias in November 2016, which I reported in Part One, this letter, written a month later, does not offer forgiveness to Zacharias. Instead, Brad wrote of feeling rage toward Zacharias.
There’s also an indication in Brad’s letter that Zacharias has moved from pledging to “be a better man” to denying willing participation in the illicit relationship with Lori Ann.
“You can make my wife out to be what ever you want,” Brad writes, “but I and all else who know her would testify to the the (sic) integrity of LA. There is no way she would ever try to lure a seventy year old man who is world famous into an affair. Such a statement would be a desperate attempt to distort the truth.”
Yet this was the argument Zacharias made in his lawsuit eight months later and then in December 2017, published to the world. Part Three examines the evidence on both sides of this claim, which includes documentation never before released.
Below is the email I received containing Lori Anne and Brad Thompson’s stories.
According to the Basels, there is a typo: the date of Lori Anne’s letter was not “2017,” but “2016.” Also, in one place, the letter says, “Sometime in the fall of 2016 R had asked me to send some photos . . .” This appears to be a typo as well and likely should be “2015.”Lori Ann and Brad’s Story_Redacted