Lori Anne Thompson Ravi Zacharias
Lori Anne Thompson shares an emotional account of how her abuse at the hands of Ravi Zacharias impacted her.

Video: Victim of Ravi Zacharias Publishes Emotional Statement

By Julie Roys

The Canadian woman who alleges that the late apologist Ravi Zacharias lured her into a sexting relationship in 2016 has released an emotional video statement, recounting the impact Zacharias’ abuse has had on her and her family.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) initially denied any impropriety by Zacharias in the relationship. However, an investigation commissioned by RZIM recently found  “credible evidence” that Zacharias “engaged in  sexual misconduct over many years.”

The woman, Lori Anne Thompson, has asked the Zacharias family repeatedly to release her and her husband from a nondisclosure agreement the couple signed in 2017 to settle a lawsuit Ravi Zacharias had filed against them. To date, the Zacharias family has refused to do so.

Thompson told me the existing NDA leaves her and her family vulnerable to legal retribution from the Zacharias family. 

With Thompson’s permission, The Roys Report is republishing Thompson’s full video statement and transcript below:

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Transcript of Video:

I can’t imagine something that I would like to talk about less, but need to talk about more.

I was born into the home of a serial sexual predator. I took my first beating in the womb. Abuse has been my birthright. I managed to survive a home of substance abuse, domestic violence, parental abduction, sexual, physical, emotional abuse, medical, educational, physical, environmental neglect, spurning and psychological abuse that bordered on torture. Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) have been robustly studied and scaled in severity. Individuals can have an ACE score of 1-10 — mine is a perfect ten.

Outcomes in adulthood for children like me are abysmal. Lacking the average expected environment, my personhood and personality were formed not only in lack, but in deprivation of all that would fashion growth — but grow I did. I was clever, quiet, and compulsively compliant — all things that helped me to survive. Deep rivers of ruin ran under my intelligence and undermined my every effort to overcome. I tried hard to run away from the ravages, but they ran through me.

I left home when I was fifteen, not because I wanted to, but because I had too. Previously incarcerated for sexual abuse, my father was tried for sex crimes a second time and this time was set free. I had every reason to fear for my life and I did — daily. I would be preyed upon by men in positions of power over the next twenty five years. Early and well developed patterns of compliance were complicated by the very real and human need to belong. Predators possess. The abused very often do not know the difference between the two. I survived a series of ‘possessions’ as a student, as an employee, as a patient, and as a parishioner. I wish this had of been different for me and for many. I hungered for it to be different. I hunger for it to be different still. I wanted each of those individuals to be trustworthy and true. They weren’t.

I met Ravi Zacharias (RZ) in the fall of 2014 at a UCB Canada businessman luncheon in Kingston, ON when my husband Brad, a businessman and avid listener of RZ’s work, regular annual donor to UCB Canada, sponsored and hosted a table. At the time we lived an hour away and I was weary of travelling back and forth everyday to Kingston, ON, where I was a mature student at Queen’s University. It is my belief that RZ targeted me from the moment that he saw me. He had his assistant take my email at that event and an online seemingly innocent dialogue ensued for an extended period.

Many survivors of childhood abuse have a profound spiritual wound and questions about God, myself not withstanding. RZ appeared to be one of the safest, most well respected, and honourable persons in whom to confide and seek wise counsel. His position as a global representative of the gospel was one of extraordinary and unquestioned trust. I simply had no reason to suspect that he had nefarious intentions. I think this position of naive trust is equally understandable and relatable.

I was a married mother to five children in a blended family and I was also finishing my undergraduate late in life, and launching into my dream career, all during this same time period. When I met RZ, my youngest child was 5, at the time of this writing she is nearly 12. It has been well over six years since that day. I wish I had never had the misfortune of meeting RZ in person. In hindsight, attending that luncheon was one of the worst days of my life — and as you can imagine — I have had a few.

The details of the grooming process and subsequent online sexual abuse have been released in The Roys Report in a narrative that I wrote in late 2016/17. Even to revisit and retell of that traumatic time, wounds me. I feel all the same nausea as the world spins in savage slow motion. I wrote them then. They still stand now. There is no need to repeat myself nor do I wish to.

I tried to tell a Christian counsellor what was happening to me. He told me not to tell anyone, especially not my husband, that he could see RZ’s draw to me, and that if anyone ever found out, the kingdom of God would be irreparably damaged. I became suicidal. When I heard news of someone in our old church getting a diagnosis of terminal cancer, I longed to be her. We visited Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia for my fortieth birthday and I researched how best to slip off the rocks and succumb to the deep —such was the depths of despair. It was not just what was happening to me, but whom it was happening by. I didn’t die, but if wishing to die could kill you — I’d be dead repeatedly. Even after the abuse stopped, I stayed in touch with RZ. He was the only person who knew what happened to me. In time, I told my sister but I was never going to tell anyone else what happened.

I travelled to a counselling intensive with Jerry and Denise Basel (they were recommended by friends in the ministry.) I had no intention of telling them what exactly happened or whom it happened with. When I finally disclosed to them, together we drafted an email to cut off all contact with RZ and to tell my husband about the abuse. I was contacted by text, email, and phone from RZ once I had sent a final email to him. He threatened to commit suicide if I broke my silence. I was terrified in that moment and for a long time to come. To my betrayer, telling anyone was betrayal. Abusers not only demand silence — they enforce it.

When I disclosed that same day to my husband what happened to me — he was devastated. Brad had already experienced a protracted history of breech of trust, early abandonment, shaming, and interrupted attachments in his own life. He was crumbling at home with our children and I was in another country in complete collapse. He wasn’t sure he wanted me to come home. I wasn’t sure I would make it home. No one slept that Saturday night and for many years of Saturdays to come. Life as we knew it was ripped apart. We were torn asunder. I can hardly find the words to describe the complete and utter relational, emotional, psychological, and physical implosion.

I took a leave of absence from my much loved work as I/we could hardly function. A handful of friends knew. We contacted an advocate who put us in contact with a trauma informed therapist. Daily I was not sure if my husband would come home. Daily he was not certain I would be alive when he got home. The lack of any cognitive framework for clergy sexual abuse mixed with deep attachment wounds of his own, leaving my husband drowning in shame and excruciating pain. This led to him to bitterly blame me — even as I struggled under the crushing weight of it all. The intensity of our individual despair, outrage, and felt shame drove us each intermittently deeper into despair. Our whole family was ruptured. All semblance of normal biological and relational rhythm was obliterated. Daily life ground down to trying not to die or kill each other. We did not understand what had happened to me, to him, and to us. It would take a full year and a half of very hard work just to establish some semblance of safety and stability.

Post disclosure, we started looking at our options for accountability. What were we going to do? We could go to the media, survivor bloggers, the board (which included some of RZ’s family), hire a lawyer to confront him privately, or do nothing. Given the expansive power differential and our desire for privacy we chose to confront RZ with a lawyer. It was not then, and is not now, about the money — it was about accountability. We held the view that powerful people who target, groom, exploit others should be held accountable.

We (and our legal team) underestimated the level of retaliation and backlash we would receive. RZ kept asking for more time to respond to our demand letter — this time was granted. The day after the final extension expired, RZ filed a federal lawsuit against us alleging that he was a victim of an elaborate extortion scheme for money that we didn’t need. We were also accused of racketeering, which I still do not fully comprehend. We were dumbfounded. I remember when we were served the lawsuit. I was terrified. I was certain that RZ had sent someone to kill us both.

RZ used a former local church abuse experience where my husband and I had been victim of financially and spiritually abusive cleric, to support his fantastical claim that we were a litigious couple who sued people for financial gain. While this narrative is as verifiably false as it is reprehensible — it was also widely parroted and propagated by RZIM. RZ as an individual and RZIM as an institution took a prior abuse situation that had fractured my husband and I years previously, and used that information to publicly and falsely crucify us. The consequences of trying to hold RZ to account for his abusive and predatory behaviour was that my husband and I not only had to endure endless interpersonal atrocities — we were also widely publicly humiliated and vilified.

When RZ sued us (victims) as alleged extortionists, my husband and I were still staggering under the weight of trauma and struggling with extensive PTSD symptoms. While we were horrified and outraged and had some financial resources to use, we also had limited personal resources with which to fight an individual with as much power as RZ and virtually limitless resources. We were barely surviving as it was. RZ reported that he had a donor who was willing to fund the full cost of litigation and that this process could take several more years. To settle with RZ out of court seemed like the only viable and practical option. Both parties signed a NDA and we had no idea that he would break it almost immediately. Even when he broke it so flagrantly, we were still unable to collect ourselves enough to even think about the protracted litigation process we were promised.

Being abused costs far more than can ever be properly recompensed. It has been reported elsewhere that I had received a financial settlement from RZ. More than half of the money reportedly received was spent on legal fees, approximately another $33,000 was spent on therapy (which is ongoing), and a further $30,000 was invested in a Masters of Child Advocacy in Policy from Montclair State University. I have also lost my annual income as a health professional. Yet, astonishingly, there remain some who still accuse me of being in this “for the money.” This false narrative was started by RZ, but has been widely circulated publicly and privately by RZIM.

When we met RZ, we no longer attended church, but our children were still attending faith based schools, and we took our summer holidays in a faith based community. After the press release issued in Christianity Today on Dec 3, 2107 it became untenable to remain in the same community. RZ portrayed my husband as a man who pimped his wife virtually for monetary gain. This was not only widely believed, it was also untenable. By March of 2018 we had decided to sell the home we built together at a loss, and moved to a smaller home at a higher cost, in another city. I left the work that I loved as a registered health professional and went to grad school to study abuse. The hope was that we could enjoy some semblance of local anonymity and daily safety and stability.

I knew the world to be an unsafe place before I met Ravi Zacharias — but I yet had hope that there were some safe and sacred spaces. I no longer live with that hope. I trusted him. I trusted Christendom. That trust is irreparably and catastrophically shattered. I yet believe Christ, even if he be not true, as he is the highest ethic I can find. They (the religious elite) stripped him, beat him mercilessly, called him all manner of names, and publicly crucified him too.

Even though I was a survivor before I met RZ, having met and come to know him was one of the most traumatizing, soul destroying, faith crushing seasons in my life. He tore down everything I had built and that I thought was beautiful. My marriage, my husband, my home, my faith, my family’s faith, my capacity to mother, my mental and physical health, what little good repute I had, and ultimately my entire career path.

Most of what matters in life is held together by healthy relationships, secure attachments, and trust. The betrayal trauma that we incurred because of RZ and RZIM crushed our relationship to each other, to God, and severed our connection to the wider faith community. While I am immensely grateful that we still have each other, I am grieved that we have lost much of faith, nearly all of our friends, and are inhibited in the process of making new ones.

My privacy has been expunged and has been replaced with secrecy. Never again will I be hired for work without someone reading about what happened to me at his hands. Never again will privacy be fully mine. I accept that as my new reality, but I will never come to agree with it.

RZ’s secrets, sins and public shame do not belong to me and I verbally and publicly send them back to him and RZIM. I have repeatedly requested to be released from my NDA. To date, no release has come. So be it. My words belong to me, and I take them back today.

To my fellow advocates — thank you for speaking for me where and when I could not speak for myself.

To my fellow survivors, hold fast. There is hope. There is help. All will not always be lost. What happened to you does not have the last word. You do. It is my hope that this is my final statement on my own behalf — I will never stop speaking on yours.

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53 thoughts on “Video: Victim of Ravi Zacharias Publishes Emotional Statement”

  1. Lori Anne,

    Thank you for your truly incredible courage in permitting Julie to publish your video.
    I am thankful that you may see this, because since I first and recently learned of your story and read Carson Weitnauer’s apology to you, I wished to say these things –

    1. We BELIEVE you, we BELIEVE you, we BELIEVE you.
    Your words are ENOUGH.

    2. What RZ and RZIM did and continue to do to you, Brad and your children was and is diabolically, egregiously, staggeringly, incomprehensibly reprehensible. My husband and I grieve and mourn it with you and for you. We are SO incredibly sorry for ALL you have suffered, and had stolen from you. We understand it (to the extent that we can), and we HATE it with and for you.

    3. We are so VERY sorry for the many ways that so many Christians – individuals and organisations – for so many years, have compounded your abuse and its trauma, by not only disbelieving you, but publicly vilifying and shaming you for telling the truth of your story.

    4. May the Judge of all the earth do what is right in FULLY validating the truth, and vindicating you and your family – as He promises to do if not now, then when Jesus returns – and therefore certainly will.

    5. Though far away, we stand WITH YOU in solidarity and support.
    If the solidarity and support of your brothers and sisters in God’s family around the world could heal you, may it REACH you, and help.

    6. Ultimately, we pray earnestly for your and your family’s healing. I can only imagine what a sheer impossibility this feels like to you, but ‘where else have we to go, when you alone have words of eternal life?’. If not Jesus, then no-one. And so, may his Spirit powerfully penetrate beneath the layers of agonising pain and its scars to where nothing and no-one else can, and minister the healing balm of the Lord Jesus’ perfect love and deep, gentle, compassion for you. I mean this with all my heart, because he -has been where you are-, and he is gentle and lowly, and promises rest for your soul.

    with sincere love in Jesus,
    Keiyeng and Steve Nation
    Canberra, Australia

    1. I have just read the RZIM Board’s statement, and am so thankful for this public statement of validation and vindication for you, Lori Anne. I pray it begins a process of healing they say they are committed to.

  2. Dear Lori Anne,
    Thank you for your courageous statement. You had a right to speak truth.I’m profoundly heartsick for what you and your family have gone through. People have failed you so miserably and my prayer is that you would find healing from the only one who never fails, Jesus. I’m so grateful that you are finally believed.
    In Christ’s love,
    Pam

    1. Jacob, obviously it did not achieve that goal, but what course of action could they have done to make that happen, that was available to them at the time? If you are seeing or reading this without any background info, I suggest you go to the menu on this website, tap/click on the “Investigations” tab, and you will find several stories that Julie Roys has done about RZ, including exclusive coverage of this one case, of RZ and the Thompsons.

      1. Can you please tell me what other legal options were available to victims? I really don’t see any. I am also not familar with laws in Georgia. I am appalled that a donor paid for RZ legal fees. I am praying that same donor will step up and pay for an thorough, independent investigation by experts into the board, staff and financials.The people that investigate this again should not be paid by the ministry. That is a conflict of interest. Donors often pay for outside experts to look into ministries so it would not be uncommon. The women from overseas should be contacted and interviewed so we know what RZ was doing in other countries. I hope this same donor pays for professional help for the family so they can deal appropriately with this in their lives. So much pain caused by one person. A lesson to everyone that our actions can affect many people. We are not islands.

    2. Teresita Dominoski

      Okay, I finished reading the transcript and I understand what the money was for. My heart goes out to Lori and I pray she finds some peace. Perhaps a name change?

  3. Lori and your loved ones,

    My heart goes out to all of you as the wrestlers of these abusive experiences. Unlike Jesus Christ, I am limited regarding how much sympathy I can offer, however you have all that I can give.

    Many people worldwide deal with those amongst us who are trapped in brains with personality disorders, like many charismatic leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, unfortunately. Although I am not a trained professional, I can point out those that are which have helped thousands of people with narcissistic abuse. Everyone would be better off if they came to a complete understanding of this personality disorder as young adults by taking them seriously.

    May I suggest listening to Dr Les Carter, a Christian, and Dr Ramani, Hindu, and more on YouTube videos as much as you can. The more you listen to them, the greater your understanding will be of healthy vs unhealthy relationship patterns with people in general. Processing this information can help in your healing journey. There is so much to learn. Chances are that there will be others that you will cross paths with that will have selfish motives, secretly playing games meanwhile trying to gain or gaining control over others. Some of their videos are aimed at how to identify these patterns and set boundaries with those individuals that can’t be avoided.

    Although I will never meet these doctors in person, I feel a friendship with them because they have helped me to heal. They have so much knowledge that most people don’t know exists. You will not regret making time to ‘pile on the knowledge,’ and invest hours listening to others with a superior understanding of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Many of the doctors and therapists speaking have dealt with abuse themselves although the details aren’t given. Their videos are all about helping others while keeping their personal experiences brief.

    Again, my deepest sympathies extend to you and your family. You trusted a man with a complex personality disorder that you couldn’t identify or control. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. Learning from your experience comes with a daily commitment to do so.

    Aim for a life with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and follow His lead. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, unlike many people who can’t keep their promises. Read the Bible, meditate on the promises, pray for healing from the abusers, find your place in the ministry and help others do the same. It is a rewarding lifestyle blessed by our Father in Heaven. Make the most of it with each step. Don’t give up your faith in Christianity. God can’t bless that decision or the life choices that follow a lack of faith.

    Sincerely,

    Colleen Johnson

    1. Loi Anne,

      No words are enough. I am so sorry. I love you. I believe you.

      Your story is yours, and it is yours to tell. No one should be able to take that away from you, and I was so glad to see that you shared it here. When I saw the NDA I thought “that is so wrong”.

      I vaguely remember hearing something about this, but it wasn’t until a month ago that I came across the allegations and the investigation. I wasn’t derailed because I was at a healthier place in life, but I found it incredibly sad that RZ would sell his soul for sex, and in so doing attempt to destroy the lives of his victims.

      Ironically the books written by this perpetrator helped me when I was finally dealing with childhood sexual abuse 35 years after it happened, and I too feel betrayed. What happened to me was horrible, but it doesn’t begin to compare with the environment that you grew up in, and was like nothing compared to this.

      However, I also had PTSD and I wanted to die when I started dealing with it 35 years later because of another abuse case in my community. It took hard work and counseling, and I was fortunate to have a support system, and I survived and am thriving today.

      When I was a child no one talked about sexual abuse – I mean no one. I thought I was the only one. So I was so glad to see in these comments that someone believed you (not glad that she too was a victim) but that you were believed and not alone.

      I just today saw that a full disclosure has come out, I haven’t read the 12 pages yet, but saw a utube video about it. I found it totally unjust that you had not been released. I was then catching up with CT’s articles which led me to this.

      Sharing one’s story makes one incredibly vulnerable, but it is also freeing and empowering and I thank you and praise you for doing so. Your story is your story – it is who you are.

      I hope and pray that the day will come when this dark chapter will no longer dominate the narrative. You are more than this – you are God’s masterpiece – created in his image. You are beautiful, and I pray that His light would shine on you and illuminate the darkness and bring you into a strong hope and faith. May He protect you and your family.

      Sorry this got so wordy.

      Love, Beulah

  4. I should have added that by confronting RZ you gave him the priceless opportunity to repent and come clean, and he chose not to.

    I regret the price that you had to pay to give him that gift. I know I felt that I was “damned if I do, and damned if I don’t”. But it wasn’t true. It was the hardest thing that I ever did, but I am alive and well today because I did it.

    I pray that you too will come to a safe and secure place surrounded by support.

    Love, Beulah

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