A federal judge has denied a request from donors to expedite the legal process to access the records of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) out of concern that the famed apologist used their donations to fund his abusive practices.
Earlier this year, an internal investigation of RZIM discovered severe and credible evidence that the organization's founder had engaged in sexual misconduct. These allegations inspired a lawsuit filed by several past donors, who believed the organization had misled them concerning how they used the money. The lead plaintiffs, Derek and Dora Carrier, have taken legal action to determine if Ravi Zacharias had used their money to fund Zacharias' conduct. The pair's legal counsel filed for "expedited discovery" to allow them access to the various financial documents that RZIM had provided.
"RZIM is sitting on a pile of money, and no one knows how RZIM is spending that money," Drew Ashby of the firm Ashby Thelen Lowry, told Christianity Today. "Our clients view this as God's money, not their money, and they want that money back to invest in legitimate ministry purposes to build the kingdom of God."
In brief, filed on Monday, the Carriers' attorneys urged the court to remember that RZIM leadership has acted deceitfully in the past. RZIM "defended Zacharias in the face of accusations of sexual abuse, failed to investigate those accusations, used donated funds to finance sexual misconduct, and continue to use donated funds for personal and other purposes that fall outside of their stated missions."
While RZIM has made steps to account for the previous empowering of its founder, the lawsuit alleges that the organization gave Zacharias the resources he needed to continue his abusive habits. RZIM CEO Sarah Davis (and daughter of Ravi Zacharias) told the courts that the process would take several days and cost RZIM more than $100,000 to provide the requested information. Davis also claimed that a lot of the data is confidential and that donors have no legal right to know what nonprofits like RZIM do with their money.
While the judge has denied the request, the Carrier's legal team intends to make their case again, assuming they can provide legitimate grounds for said filing.