A victim of the late Ravi Zacharias, who was silenced by a non-disclosure agreement, has issued a public statement about her ordeal. Lori Anne Thompson, who has been actively seeking to get released from the agreement, published a victim impact statement on Monday detailing the situation with Ravi.
Thompson said she first met Zacharias at a radio event in Canada. "It is my belief that RZ targeted me from the moment that he saw me," she said, noting that Ravi's assistant noted down her email address and that the pair began communicating via email thereafter.
"RZ appeared to be one of the safest, most well respected, and honourable persons in whom to confide and seek wise counsel," she said. "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."
Thompson said she did not wish to repeat the details of "the grooming process and subsequent online sexual abuse" she experienced at the hands of Zacharias. "Even to revisit and retell of that traumatic time, wounds me," she explained. "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."
Instead, Thompson talked about the legal situation with Ravi, noting that she and her husband's "demand letter" to Ravi was not about monetary gain, but was about "accountability".
Zacharias failed to respond within the timeframe permitted, instead choosing to file a federal lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
"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," Thomson explained. "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."
Thompson went on to say that Zacharias and his organisation, RZIM, used a prior situation the couple had been involved to insinuate that they were "a litigious couple who sued people for financial gain".
"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," she said. "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."
Thomson said that she settled out of court with Zacharias after he claimed to have a donor "who was willing to fund the full cost of litigation" and warning that the legal process "could take several more years".
As part of the settlement, both Thompson and Zacharias reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement, but, she said, Zacharias broke his shortly afterwards by speaking publicly about the situation.
"Both parties signed a NDA and we had no idea that he would break it almost immediately," Thompson said. "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."
Thompson went on to address the undisclosed financial settlement, noting that much of the money was spent on therapeutic treatment.
"A further $30,000 was invested in a Masters of Child Advocacy in Policy from Montclair State University," she said. "I have also lost my annual income as a health professional. Yet, astonishingly, there remains people 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."
Thompson said that Zacharias "tore down everything I had built and that I thought was beautiful," adding that her family was forced to move home as a result of the situation.
"Most of what matters in life is held together by healthy relationships, secure attachments, and trust," she said. "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."
Thompson concluded her statement:
"RZ’s secrets sins and public shame do not belong to me and I verbally and publically 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 hope that this is my final statement on my own behalf — I will never stop speaking on yours."
A full investigation into Ravi's misconduct is due to be released by RZIM in the coming weeks. He has faced several allegations of sexual harassment, many of which have been admitted to by RZIM following the release of an interim report by investigating law firm, Miller & Martin, back in December. The investigation has mainly focused on incidences of misconduct which were alleged to have taken place at two day spas that he co-owned in Atlanta, Georgia.
"RZIM will publicly release the Miller & Martin report as given to the Board as soon as possible after the investigation is complete," the apologetics organisation said in its most recent statement.
"In the meantime, we share your compassion for any victims of this conduct, and we appreciate your prayers for them and also for Ravi’s family who have been devastated by this information. As ever, the Lord remains our principal hope for healing and restoration."