Ravi Zacharias

Betrayed Trust, Part One: New Testimony, Emails & Other Documents Portray Ravi Zacharias as Predator in Sexting Scandal

By Julie Roys

In 2017, the famous late apologist, Ravi Zacharias, claimed in a Christianity Today (CT) article that a Canadian woman had sent him “unwanted” nude pictures in an attempt by the woman and her husband to extort millions from Zacharias. The explanation effectively absolved Zacharias of wrongdoing in a major sexting scandal and preserved the reputation of Zacharias and his $40 million ministry. (Zacharias, who’s been hailed as “the greatest Christian apologist of this century,” died on May 19, 2020.)

However, emails, testimony, and other documentation recently obtained by The Roys Report tell a much different story.

They instead portray Zacharias as someone who befriended, groomed, and then initiated a sexting relationship with a married woman, Lori Anne Thompson. Then, when Thompson told Zacharias she was going to tell her husband about the illicit relationship, emails show Zacharias threatened suicide.

Months later, after Thompson and Zacharias had signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) confining them to silence, Zacharias publicly released a statement to CT, painting Thompson as the predator.

According to Thompson’s lawyer, Boz Tchividjian of Landis Graham French, P.A., Zacharias’ statement in CT “clearly violated the confidentiality provision of the Settlement Agreement” that Zacharias and Thompson had signed. (Tchividjian also is the founder of Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment or G.R.A.C.E.)

Tchividjian added, “At the time, my clients made the very difficult decision to abide by the legally binding agreement even though Zacharias had apparently decided to do otherwise.”

Zacharias’ statement to CT also appears to contradict the facts, according to recently obtained emails between Thompson and Zacharias, as well as never before published letters written in 2016 by Thompson and her husband, Brad.

Also claiming that Zacharias’ statement was false are two Christian counselors, Jerry and Denise Basel. The couple say they helped Lori Anne end her relationship with Zacharias in 2016 and witnessed the break-up.

The Basels have been released from confidentiality and spoke exclusively to The Roys Report last week.

I reached out to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) last November with several questions about  Zacharias’ statement to CT and his 2017 lawsuit against the Thompsons. RZIM responded, “The lawsuit has been resolved and neither Ravi Zacharias nor RZIM wish to comment on it further.”

I reached out again to RZIM this week with the new revelations about Zacharias’ relationship with Thompson and emails I had obtained, but RZIM did not respond.

The Breakup and Emails

According to the Basels, Lori Anne Thompson came to meet with them from October 27, 2016—October 31, 2016. They said Thompson was confused and distraught over her relationship with Zacharias.

During their time together, the Basels said they became convinced that Zacharias had groomed Thompson so he could exploit her sexually. The Basels said Thompson, who was 30 years younger than Zacharias, was abused by her father and longed for a nurturing father figure.

“In many ways, she was kind of like a child in regard to him because of his age,” Jerry Basel said.  “It just followed a pattern that we are familiar with in regard to abuse.”

“It was just this slowly drawing Lori into something deeper,” Denise Basel said. “It seemed more innocent at the beginning, but it kept increasing.”

On October 29, 2016, while Thompson was with the Basels, Thompson sent an email to Zacharias, which the Basels released to The Roys Report this week. In it, Thompson writes that she can “no longer continue” with “what I know to be sin against God and each of our spouses.”

Thompson announced that she was planning on telling her husband about her illicit affair with Zacharias that evening. “I have no control over how Brad will respond to or handle the information but I can no longer hold this secret and its soul searing shame,” she wrote.

Thompson added:

If one of my daughters was approached by a man thirty years her senior in a position of power and trust, and this type of thing had occurred, I would be furious with him. I suspect so would you if it were one of your precious girls.  

You sir, are that man. You took advantage of a devastated daughter, and left her devoured once again. I am so appalled that I allowed myself to enter into this level of deception. You took and I gave a part of my soul and later my body that was not yours. The investment in relationship from taking my email to taking off my clothes makes me weep with the despair; feeling desolate, devastated, and disgusted.

Thompson’s letter includes the request that Zacharias not reply “as I simply cannot hear from you or see you ever again.”

However, about three-and-a-half hours later—at 4:38 p.m.—Zacharias sent an email to Thompson, saying:

Are you going to tell him it’s me?

Forty-eight seconds later, Zacharias sent another email, saying:

You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If. You betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise.

At 5:03 p.m., Zacharias wrote:

Can we not meet at lest (sic) once before you do this? Please please

At 5:57 p.m., Zacharias writes:

Little did I know that was the most dark and accursed day of my life. You will not hear from me again

Eighteen minutes later, at 6:15 p.m., the Basels sent an email to Zacharias from Thompson’s account, stating:

We are Lori Anne’s counsellors and she is currently receiving intensive counselling with us to find healing and restoration for her marriage. It is not her intent to share what has happened to anyone except her husband—which is necessary for any hope of marital restoration. And we are bound by confidentiality. We need some assurance from you that you will not harm yourself. Otherwise, we will find it necessary to contact 911 in your location. We await your prompt response. Thank you.

Three minutes later, at 6:18 p.m., Zacharias responded, saying:

I am fine Thank you. I am just concerned about her. Thank you please tell her I am praying for her. She is very much in my prayers.

The Basels said Thompson confessed to her husband, Brad, that night that she had been in an illicit sexting relationship with Zacharias.

“It was a very, very bad night . . . really, a devastating night for both of them,” Jerry Basel said.

“Premature Forgiveness”

According to the Basels, in the month following the traumatic revelation of the affair, the Thompsons, especially Brad, offered Zacharias “premature forgiveness.” The Basels said both Brad and Lori Anne had not yet worked through the stages of grief and were stuck in a form of denial.

Emails the Basels released between the Thompsons and Zacharias seem to support this.

In an email from Lori Anne to Zacharias that was sent from Brad’s account, Lori Anne wrote: “I wish for you to assume the very best of me, despite my failure; I will assume the very best of you.”

Zacharias responded the same day:

Thank you to you both. . . . I promise to be a better man. I have informed my office that I will turn in my phone next week . . .

The Basels said that the next month, in mid-December, Lori Anne and Brad came to them for five days of intensive counseling together.

Jerry Basel said the couple was “struggling with all that had happened,” but “very committed” to each other. Basel said that as is typical in cases like these, “there was a lot of pain with each other and anger.”

Similarly, Denise Basel said Brad was entering the grieving process and experiencing anger toward Zacharias for what he had done. “That’s when things got a little more direct with Ravi,” she said, and Brad was less willing to give Zacharias “a soft landing.”

About a week later, on December 27, 2016, Lori Anne Thompson wrote a letter documenting her relationship with Zacharias and explaining how she believed Zacharias had preyed on her. Brad Thompson also wrote a letter, expressing the impact Zacharias’ behavior had on his life and his family. I received the letters this week from a trusted source. I sent both letters to the Basels who confirmed their authenticity.

In Part Two of this series, I will report the contents of the Thompson’s letters, which have never before been published, as well as phone records, which corroborate their story. 

Email Correspondence Between Thompsons and Zacharias:

Ravi_Lori Anne Letters_Redacted
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147 thoughts on “Betrayed Trust, Part One: New Testimony, Emails & Other Documents Portray Ravi Zacharias as Predator in Sexting Scandal”

  1. To the “Christian” journalist who wrote this and commented above: who are you to qualify RZ’s behavior as predatory?
    It was as sinful as the adulterer woman behavior but It was a willing and consensual sexting relationship between 2 adults. Men in power love that they have groupies; and groupies love men in power.
    So. If a 30y/o woman has sex with a powerful 60y/o man, it was because he groomed her?
    Was not there any kind of financial, sexual or social gain for this adulterer woman?
    Specially now that RW can’t defend himself.
    That adulterer woman may fool many in this world, but she won’t be able to fool God.

  2. I also have bad feelings on this coming to light after Ravi has passed (same way I had a problem with one of JFK’s mistresses coming forward only a few years ago, after nearly the entire family has passed).
    But I won’t beat a dead horse, as others have indicated similar concern.

    I would like to know about the Basels, specifically the ethical and legal implications and ramifications of counselors publicly revealing details about sessions and clients, whether past or present.

    1. The Basels have revealed what their clients have authorized them to reveal. Ravi is not and has not been their client.

      On the other hand, there are strong ethical and legal implications and ramifications of a pastor having any sort of an affair with a parishioner. Are you concerned about the problems with Ravi’s conduct as well?

  3. Julie, this is so concerning, even heart wrenching, if true, But one thing that is hard to understand is this statement from Lori Anne’s lawyer to Ravi before this all came out: “In the alternative of protracted and public litigation, [the couple] will sign a release of you and your church and ministry in exchange for a certified check in the amount of $5 million,” stated the letter from the Bryant Law Firm. Can you have Lori Anne explain why they did that as it seems like it was about getting millions for hush money, rather than calling out a predator and protecting other potential victims that she is claiming now.

  4. It takes two to tango. I love how every time a woman cheats on her spouse, she suddenly plays the “victim” and deflects all blame to her paramour. It’s beyond ridiculous. Women want to be treated as equals until they make bad decisions and then we’re all supposed to believe their “victimization” as a truth statement. You want equal treatment, ladies? Then, accept your fair share of blame!

    1. What an ugly and unscriptural comment.

      And inaccurate: Lori Anne HAS acknowledged her role and repented of it.

      Ravi, on the other hand, went to his grave lying about the affair, and without any public repentance.

  5. I love Ravi Zacharias! I have enough understanding of human nature that nothing in the 21st century surprises or shock me, even within Christian circles. Christians are still very much sinful and flawed creatures, and we need accountability in our lives lest we, too, go astray. While Ravi may have proven to be very much the human that he was, I love him still, even as I know that he was deeply loved and used by the Christ that he loved and served down through the many years!

    1. “But those who persist in sin should be rebuked in front of everyone, so that the others will stand in fear of sin. I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to maintain these principles without bias, and to do nothing out of partiality.”

      I Timothy 5:20-21

      “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

      I Timothy 3: 1-3

      “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

      Romans 16:17-18

  6. International Ninja

    My biggest question would have to be how we can trust these emails and if there is any solid proof from Ravi’s side about this happening the way it’s being framed here. If I were an accuser, I could create an email account in Ravi’s name and make it all myself. This is where we need more investigation and confirmation of sources, which is difficult because this isn’t a police matter and Ravi is dead now. I want the truth, but it’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to allegations like this. I think innocent until proven guilty is a good rule of thumb, and situations like this are tough for those of us on the outside reading internet articles. How much trust can we put in things posted to a website or blog?

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Forty-eight seconds later, Zacharias sent another email, saying:

    You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If. You betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise.

    i.e. “If you Squeal I’ll Commit Suicide AND IT’LL BE ALL YOUR FAULT!!! ALL YOUR FAULT!!! ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!!!”

    After my mother’s death in 1975, my NPD/Sociopath brother used suicide threats to guilt-manipulate me into waiting on him hand-and-foot.

    Try that on me now and I’ll Dare You to Do It.
    “DO IT. I CALL YOUR BLUFF.”
    (And if it wasn’t a bluff, Good Riddance.)

  8. By their fruits you will know them. Ravi reached millions with the gospel. Lori Thompson sent nude photos of herself and has a history of blackmailing preachers. Who seduced whom? Grooming by Ravi or a set up by Lori and her husband? I think it was a set up, and the three days of counseling and some e-mails were part of the set up. I don’t know if those counselors were complicit or not, but I wonder about it. And I don’t know about Ravi, but that ministry is being gutted and so is Ravi’s family. What good is being done by that? This only harms a once-effective ministry, the gospel of Christ, and Ravi’s family. Ravi is in God’s hands now, and God knows the whole truth. God will deal with Ravi. No one here knows the whole truth or the intentions of those involved, got that Julie? One thing is easy to figure out, though, Satan hated the world-wide impact of Ravi Zacharias. So who are you benefiting by digging up a dead man and dragging him through the mud? That’s a move worthy of the Taliban and ISIS. I hope Lori Thomspon is never released from her NDA, and I hope her counselors, Julie Roys, all the online polemicists soon have a legal or Divine Encounter. Romans 14:4, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

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