June 20, 2021

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Prominent evangelical leader Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, his ministry reports

Ravi Zacharias, a prominent evangelical Christian leader and author who died of cancer last May at age 74, led a double life of coerced sexual gratification from massage therapists, his organization, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), said Thursday. RZIM released an independent report by the Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin detailing Zacharias’ transgressions, including sexual misconduct and rape allegations from more than a dozen massage therapists and the discovery of about 200 photos of young women on his phones, some of them nude selfies. The board of RZIM, which is led by Zacharias’ daughter, said it was “shocked and grieved by Ravi’s actions,” and apologized to his victims: “Words cannot come close to expressing the sorrow that we feel for what you have been through or the gratitude we feel for the bravery with which you have responded.” RZIM denied any sexual misconduct by its founder last fall, and Zacharias had sued one accuser for extortion before he died. Most of the women Miller & Martin interviewed said that during massages, Zacharias would grab their breasts or genitals and ask for sexual gratification. Investigators found more than 200 other massage therapists listed in his phones, many of them in Asia. He spent months at a pair of apartments he owned in Bangkok, and the investigators found 2016 texts showing that Zacharias “spent his days writing and his nights receiving massages” there. The woman who accused Zacharias of rape said that after he “arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her,” then “made her pray with him to thank God for the ‘opportunity’ they both received.” The woman told investigators that Zacharias “called her his ‘reward’ for living a life of service to God,” and “said he warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the ‘millions of souls’ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.” Zacharias, born in India and raised in Canada, first rose to prominence preaching at a 1983 conference organized by Rev. Billy Graham. He went on to write about two dozen books and had a radio show. His funeral in August was attended by then-Vice President Mike Pence, NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, and other boldface names. “In Ravi Zacharias, God gave us the greatest Christian apologist of this century,” Pence said at the funeral. “He was the C.S. Lewis of our day.” More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Republicans’ impeachment cowardiceImpeachment isn’t what will hurt Trump mostMike Pence’s ‘nuclear football’ was also apparently at risk during the Capitol siege

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