Ravi Zacharias, Online Sex Scandal, NDA, Lawsuit, Suicide emails
GUEST POST by Steve Baughman
Is Ravi Zacharias Violating his Federal Lawsuit Non-Disclosure Agreement? Does Anybody Care?
by Steve Baughman
On November 9, 2017, Ravi Zacharias settled his lawsuit against Lori Anne and Brad Thompson by entering into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The terms of the agreement are confidential. But from what Ms. Thompson says, they are highly restrictive. She told an inquiring Christian blogger shortly after the settlement, “My husband and I are, and always will be bound by confidentiality legally. All I can say now or ever say is that he dropped the lawsuit and the matter is settled.”
Ravi apparently sees it the same way. He told Christianity Today “I am legally prevented from answering or even discussing the questions and claims being made by some, other than to say that each side paid for their own legal expenses and no ministry funds were used.” According to the magazine, “Zacharias declined to comment to CT on the image of the emails showing the apparent suicide threat, citing the nondisclosure agreement.”
This is pretty standard stuff. A case settles on confidential terms and nobody can talk about it except to say that it has settled.
Take careful note. The Thompsons can now say nothing. And they appear to be taking their promise seriously.
What about Ravi?
Well,… not so much.
On December 3, over three weeks after the settlement, Ravi issued a press release entitled “Statement on my Federal Lawsuit.” In that statement he describes the behavior that Ms. Thompson “shockingly” engaged in, which included sending him “inappropriate” photographs of herself and refusing to stop after he requested that she do so. As to her allegation that he solicited the nude photos, he states “I did not, and there is no evidence to the contrary.”
This statement seems to violate the NDA. It is also plainly false. Ms.Thompson has alleged that Ravi “solicited and ultimately received” many indecent photos of her. Whether her testimony would have been persuasive or not, I cannot say. But as a matter of law it would have been “evidence to the contrary” and admissible to rebut Ravi’s assertion. Was there other evidence? Ms. Thompson cannot say. And Ravi knows that.
In his press release Ravi also made the following astonishing statement: “In my 45 years of marriage to Margie, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.”
Here we see more darts being hurled at Ms. Thompson, who, through her lawyer, specifically alleged that Ravi had indeed done inappropriate things, such as “exploit[ing] her vulnerability to satisfy [his] own sexual desires,” and having “sexually explicit online conversations” with her. True or false, Ravi shouts his innocence from the mountaintops, while his opponent remains true to her word.
And in a highly manipulative (and mean-spirited) move that may itself have violated confidentiality, Ravi announced that it was the Thompsons who “requested mediation rather than going to trial.”
Here, the Ravi Zacharias sleaze rises to the top for all to see. Ravi and his PR team know full well that legally unsophisticated people (ie., most people) will read the alleged mediation request as a sign of weakness on the part of the Thompsons: “I, Ravi, wanted my day in court. But the Thompsons caved! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!”
Few people know that requesting mediation could just as easily mean the opposite: “Ravi Zacharias, we have soooooo much dirt on you, and your lawsuit did not even pretend to state a serious legal theory but was simply a public face-saving gimmick to initiate mediation, and we are good people who want to move on, so let’s do it!”
(The Thompsons, by the way, did do it, apparently with success. Ravi, despite being the plaintiff, was the one to pay out. He claims that no ministry funds were used, but his ministry refused to say whether he received reimbursement from them for personal funds he may have paid to the Thompsons. See the report from the Christian watchdog group, Ministry Watch, which finds Ravi “likely guilty” of conduct that would, if made public, cause “significant reputational damage.”
Whatever the truth of the matter, the Thompsons cannot respond.
In his press release Ravi also tells a significant lie. He informs us that he “resolved to terminate all contact with her,” a claim he repeatedly stresses in his federal complaint. But in both the complaint and the press release, Ravi omits the fact that at precisely 5:03:34 pm EDT on October 29. 2016, which was very late in his relationship with Ms. Thompson, he begged her in an email to meet with him:
“Can we not meet at lest (sic) once before you do this? Please please”
Ravi’s “please please” urgency was due to the fact that Ms. Thompson had just minutes before informed him that she would be telling her husband of their relationship “in hopes that my marriage will be salvaged.”
In a somewhat un-Christian response, Ravi informed her that he would kill himself if she did. Here’s what he wrote at 4:38:48 pm.
“You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If. (sic) You betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise”
Clearly this was not a man trying to break off all contact.
Incidentally, if the Thompsons initiate future litigation against Ravi, we should not be surprised to see him pleading the Fifth Amendment. There are only so many lies you can tell the federal court before you wind up on the criminal docket.
In addition to the written record, I have learned of two individuals who have spoken directly to Ravi about his case with Ms. Thompson. On January 27, 2018, Pastor Trey Brunson told the former archivist at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jim Lutzweiler, that he had spoken to Ravi, that he believes Ravi, and that Ms. Thompson has a prior litigation history involving at least three lawsuits. (Pastor Brunson has his facts wrong. Did he get them from Ravi? Ms. Thompson has no prior litigation history.) More interesting, a source who must remain anonymous per his request, indicates that he spoke to Ravi and that Ravi acknowledged sending the suicide emails, but claims that they have been “misinterpreted.” (Ravi has never publicly denied sending the suicide emails.)
So, Ravi Zacharias feels free to talk about the case privately to strategically useful persons and to issue a scathing press release, but he invokes the NDA to evade questions about using a suicide threat to pressure Ms. Thompson not to start repairing her marriage.
And nobody is making a fuss about this? That is surprising in these #MeToo days! After all, we have here yet another case of bullying by a fabulously wealthy and powerful man who bought off a weaker woman, and now feels entitled to thumb his nose at her as she stews in silence. And as is typical in such cases, one party works quietly and humbly to reclaim her dignity, while the other beats his chest and fakes a victory lap.
If I were Ms. Thompson’s attorney I would advise her to fight back.
Steve Baughman is a San Francisco attorney who has been investigating Ravi Zacharias for nearly three years. His findings can be viewed at www.RaviWatch.com.