Ravi Zacharias Opens Up About Sexting Allegations, Extortion Lawsuit
This weekend, evangelist Ravi Zacharias released a statement about allegations in a sexting scandal that prompted an extortion lawsuit. A woman claims he used his position to solicit nude photos from her, but he claims she used the photos to extort payments from him in return for her silence.
"I have learned a difficult and painful lesson through this ordeal," Zecharias said in the statement. "As a husband, father, grandfather, and leader of a Christian ministry I should not have engaged in ongoing communication with a woman other than my wife."
The evangelist confessed, "I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues."
Even so, Zacharias insisted that he did not request the nude photos and that they were sent as part of an attempt to extort money from him.
Zacharias has become one of the best-known living evangelists, and has authored dozens of books on faith (most recently Jesus Among Secular Gods: The Countercultural Claims of Christ). He is particularly well-known for giving reasons to defend Christianity in brief videos, many of them available on YouTube.
Born in India but now a Canadian and American citizen, Zacharias is the president and founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which sponsors dozens of itinerant preachers and apologists (defenders of the faith) such as the late former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi. RZIM also hosts conferences for Christian leaders and holds debates on college campuses.
Last month, Zacharias agreed to drop a lawsuit he filed against a Canadian couple, Bradley and Lori Anne Thompson, who allegedly attempted to extort money from him. According to the lawsuit, previously reported by Christianity Today, Lori Anne Thompson sent nude photos of herself to Zacharias in order to extort him to send her hush money.
The apologist charged that the wife escalated their text conversations from "friendly correspondence" to sending "unwanted, offensive, sexually explicit language and photographs."
In April 2017, the couple sent a letter through their attorney demanding $5 million in hush money. "In the alternative of protracted and public litigation," the couple promised to "sign a release of you and your church and ministry in exchange for a certified check in the amount of $5 million."
Zacharias' lawyers pointed out that Bradley Thompson sued his former pastor in 2008, alleging that the pastor abused his position of influence in counseling to further his own business interests. The suit was dropped in 2011, and while the pastor was temporarily suspended, he was later reinstated.