Home Christian News The Story Behind the Ravi Zacharias Allegations (Part 1): Lawsuits, NDAs, and...

The Story Behind the Ravi Zacharias Allegations (Part 1): Lawsuits, NDAs, and Email Threads

In September 2016, Lori Anne was visiting her sister, Tamara Battiste, in the United States. Battiste was the first person to whom Lori Anne disclosed the relationship with Zacharias that had, according to her, turned sexual. While Lori Anne didn’t claim to have been physically alone with Zacharias at any point, Battiste says Lori Anne disclosed that their relationship involved phone sex and her sending him nude pictures. Battiste indicated that it sounded predatory on Zacharias’ part considering he was some thirty years Lori Anne’s senior and in a position of spiritual authority and that she [Lori Anne] was likely trying to address a father-wound inflicted on her from her childhood. This was the beginning of Lori Anne coming to believe she had been preyed upon by someone she trusted as a pastoral figure.

As Julie Roys reports, after this point in 2016, Lori Anne sought in-person counseling from Jerry and Denise Basel, who confirmed to Roys they supported Lori Anne as she broke off her contact with Zacharias. It was also while in the Basel’s care that Lori Anne told Brad about her private contact with Zacharias.

The Email Exchange

The Basels, who started the Father’s Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry in Cleveland, Georgia, are also looped into a thread of emails that ChurchLeaders obtained. The emails—which show an exchange between Lori Anne, the Basels, and Zacharias—were given to Battiste by Thompson in the event something happened to her. When we spoke to Thompson, she indicated she and Brad were both suicidal at points during the disclosure and she feared she might take her own life.

The emails we obtained show an exchange between Lori Anne and Zacharias where she says she can no longer keep their contact a secret and not only needs to break it off but also tell Brad about it. The email, dated October 29, 2016, reads as follows (email addresses and names of Lori Anne’s children have been redacted):

From: Lori Anne Thompson <…>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 1:04:58 PM EDT
To: Ravi <…>
Subject: Letter

Dear Ravi,

I can no longer continue, even in the seams of my soul, tuck away what I know to be sin against God and each of our spouses. Sin as you know always divides and devours. I cannot however continue to live with myself, with the guilt and shame that I feel about what has happened.

In order to move forward with my spouse,  I am planning on telling him what has happened tonight. The cost of this has been staggeringly high, and I have no idea if my marriage will be salvaged. All I can do is beg his forgiveness and try to heal so that something of this nature never happens again. Please do to reply, as I simply cannot hear from you or see you ever again. I have no control over how Brad will respond to or handle the information but I can no longer hold this secret and its soul searing shame.

Let me say I have three daughters [……]. If one of my daughters was approached by a man thirty years her senior in a position of power and trust, and this type of thing had occurred, I would be furious with him. I suspect so would you if it were one of your precious girls.  

You sir, are that man. You took advantage of a devastated daughter, and left her devoured once again. I am so appalled that I allowed myself to enter into this level of deception. You took and I gave a part of my soul and later my body that was not yours. The investment in relationship from taking my email to taking off my clothes makes me weep with the despair; feeling desolate, devastated, and disgusted.

As for always, I recant on a vow I cannot keep. It is only He that will be with me always.  

Lori Anne

A string of emails from Zacharias’ personal account was sent a few hours later:

From: Ravi <….>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 4:38:00 PM EDT
To: Lori Anne Thompson <….>
Subject: Re: Letter

Are you going to tell him it’s me? 

From: Ravi <…>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 5:03:34 PM EDT
To: Lori Anne Thompson <…>
Subject: Re: Letter

Can we not meet at lest [sic] once before you do this? Please please

From: Ravi <….>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 4:38:48 PM EDT
To: Lori Anne Thompson <….>
Subject: Re: Letter

You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If. You betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise

From: Ravi <…>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 5:57:00 PM EDT
To: Lori Anne Thompson <…>
Subject: Re: Letter

Little did I know that was the most dark and accursed day of my life. You will not hear from me again

From: Lori Anne Thompson <….>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 6:15:42 PM EDT
To: Ravi <….>
Subject: Re: Letter

We are Lori Anne’s counsellors and she is currently receiving intensive counselling with us to find healing and restoration for her marriage. It is not her intent to share what has happened to anyone except her husband–which is necessary for any hope of marital restoration. And we are bound by confidentiality. We need some assurance from you that you will not harm yourself. Otherwise, we will find it necessary to contact 911 in your location. We await your prompt response. Thank you.

From: Ravi <….>
Date: October 29, 2016 at 6:18:08 PM EDT
To: Lori Anne Thompson <….>
Subject: Re: Letter

I am fine Thank you. I am just concerned about her. Thank you please tell her I am praying for her. She is very much in my prayers