A collection of donors to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries have filed a complaint in federal court, claiming that the Christian non-profit covered up the founder's abusive conduct.
A complaint filed in the North District of Georgia's federal court alleges that donors to RZIM were misled to believe that their donations were being used to promote "Christian evangelism, apologetic defense of Christianity, and humanitarian efforts."
However, the donors claim they were misled as they were told there was no evidence of abuse.
Ravi Zacharias was a world-renowned Christian apologist and speaker who died in 2020. After he died, more information about how he abused women became public, and how he had lied about academic credentials.
The complaint by donors to the organisation he founded argues that "Defendants bilked tens - if not hundreds - of millions of dollars from well-meaning donors who believed RZIM and Zacharias to be faith-filled Christian leaders. In fact, Zacharias was a prolific sexual predator who used his ministry and RZIM funds to perpetrate sexual and spiritual abuse against women."
RZIM has been aware of abuse allegations since 2017 when Lori-Anne Thompson accused Zacharias of such claims after receiving inappropriate texts from the man. The apologist denied the allegations and settled the case by forcing Thompson to sign an NDA. The lawsuit alleges that RZIM failed to investigate Thompson's claims fully, thus allowing Zacharias to continue abusing women without restraint.
The lawsuit alleges that "RZIM's actions and failure to respond appropriately to reports of Zacharias's sexual misconduct furthered the public deception that Zacharias was a faith-filled, moral, and upstanding Christian leader. RZIM's acts and omissions further allowed Zacharias to continue sexually abusing women under the cover of Christian ministry and permitted Zacharias's ongoing, deceptive fundraising efforts for RZIM." Thompson told Religion News Service that "she was not aware the lawsuit was being filed and had no connection to it."
Zacharias died in 2020 from complications related to cancer. He built a significant name among Christians, defending the Gospel before believers and non-believers.
However, a 2021 internal investigation at RZIM revealed that the apologist had a long history of sexual abuse. These included groping employees at a spa that he co-owned, having them touch him and then praying for them.