The ministry founded by the late apologist Ravi Zacharias is responding to a report accusing it of mishandling the late minister's controversial case.
The board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministry responded to a Guidepost Report stating that it used $1,000,000 of ministry money to pay for Zacharias' misconduct suit in 2017, saying "we do not agree with everything in it" and "Our focus has been instead to repent and learn from our mistakes."
Per the public report, RZIM has engaged with Guidepost Solutions LLC last February 2021 to independently evaluate RZIM's "structures, culture, policies, processes, finances, and practices, including the handling of any former abuse allegations" against RZIM's founder and former leader.
According to Guidepost, the sexual allegations started with the findings of the investigation publicized by Miller and Martin in 2020. RZIM primarily disregarded the allegations while defending and trusting Zacharias at that time, which has now given them so much regret.
"We at RZIM sincerely apologize for the enormous pain caused by Ravi Zacharias' sin and our failure to uncover it sooner," RZIM was quoted in saying.
Guidepost confirmed the sexual abuse allegations for Zacharias involving a massage therapist named Lori Anne Thompson in 2017. Thompson, a married Canadian woman, claimed Zacharias groomed her in his advancement then later resulted in an online sexual and emotional relationship with her.
Thompson threatened Zacharias with public disclosure of his acts in exchange for $5 million. As a response to the incident, with the support of the Board of Directors, Zacharias initiated a civil case against Thompson and her husband in federal court.
RZIM now claims their error in allowing Zacharias to make a public statement that "no ministry funds were used" in connection with his legal action. As they quoted, "As the report highlights, the ministry did provide money to Zacharias, which was used to pay the settlement and expenses. While the payments were legal and properly accounted for, we were wrong to let this misstatement stand."
RZIM strongly stands that there were no board or staff members who contributed to the supposed immoral acts of the late founder.
According to Guidepost, the case filed by Zacharias was then settled through a Non-Disclosure Agreement as advised by counselors of Zacharias to avoid more fees. Fast forward, the suggestive emails between Zacharias and Thompson had leaked over the internet. Christian blogs and social media exploded. He contacted public relations professional named Mark DeMoss and asked for help.
To close all the allegations against him, he drafted a statement saying that he has no inappropriate behavior of any kind. Guidepost however concluded these assertions made by Zacharias were now then appeared false based on their further investigation. They also found other malicious accounts made by the apologist leader.
Also, Guidepost cited RZIM's weakness in handling risks to protect the organization. It's their strong admiration and personal affection towards Zacharias that discouraged them to have an open and honest discussion about their leader's inappropriate conduct. Amidst Guidepost's conclusion for the RZIM's difficulty to rebuild trust and to reestablish their credibility, RZIM will remain to be committed to supporting ministries in challenging settings around the world.