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Ravi Zacharias ministry confirms apologist 'did indeed engage in sexual misconduct'

Ravi Zacharias ministry confirms apologist 'did indeed engage in sexual misconduct'

Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias speaks to tens of thousands of young adults in Atlanta's Philips Arena on Sunday, January 3, 2016. Students in Houston were able to watch Zacharias through livestream for the first time in Passion's 19 year history. | (Courtesy of Passion Conference/Phil Sanders)

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries confirmed on Wednesday that its late founder “did indeed engage in sexual misconduct.”

Releasing an interim report by Miller & Martin PLLC, which the ministry hired to investigate allegations of misconduct that were made public months after Zacharias’ death, RZIM said, “Sadly, the interim investigation update indicates this assessment of Ravi’s behavior to be true.”

“This misconduct is deeply troubling and wholly inconsistent with the man Ravi Zacharias presented both publicly and privately to so many over more than four decades of public ministry,” it added, noting that it is devastated for those who “suffered from Ravi’s misconduct.”

Massage therapists at day spas co-owned by Zacharias, an influential apologist who died in May after a battle with cancer, alleged that he would come in regularly for back pain treatment.

Three women who spoke with Stephen Baughman, an attorney, and Christianity Today said during those treatments, he would expose himself, masturbate, and ask for explicit photos as well to have sex.

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The Miller & Martin investigation team said it interviewed dozens of witnesses, including massage therapists who worked at the Touch of Eden and Jivan Wellness spas, and reviewed numerous documents and electronic devices used by Zacharias.

“Combining those interviews with our review of documents and electronic data, we have found significant, credible evidence that Mr. Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct over the course of many years. Some of that misconduct is consistent with and corroborative of that which is reported in the news recently, and some of the conduct we have uncovered is more serious,” it said.

The investigation is ongoing and is expected to conclude in January or February.

The team was given “broad discretion and authority to follow leads into other sexual misconduct that might arise” beyond the spa allegations.

“We are heartbroken at learning this but feel it necessary to be transparent and to inform our staff, donors, and supporters at this time, even while the investigation continues,” RZIM stated.

The interim report comes after an apologist with RZIM lamented how the ministry has handled allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexting allegations involving Lori Anne Thompson, a Canadian woman, in 2017.

Max Baker-Hytch, a senior tutor with the ministry's Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, called on the leadership to make "meaningful reparations" to the alleged victims and radically change the culture of the ministry. 

RZIM has vowed to release the final report once the investigation is complete.

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