Well-known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has released a statement after online rumours and allegations began circulating about him recently.
At the heart of the rumours was that Zacharias was involved in an inappropriate long-term communication with a Canadian woman via text message and email.
Zacharias spoke out this week, explaining he first met the woman at a conference in Canada in 2014. She had approached him, he says in the statement, to reach out to her husband "because he had questions about the Christian faith." Zacharias says that he followed through with the request and reached out to the man.
Sometime later, he says, the couple came to another conference he was speaking at and invited Zacharias and his wife to dinner. "That was the second and last time I was ever in the same room with either of them," he says in the statement.
After that meeting Zacharias contends that the woman began messaging him, using the email address with which he had initially reached out to the husband. "My responses were usually brief. Then, last year, she shockingly sent me extremely inappropriate pictures of herself unsolicited. I clearly instructed her to stop contacting me in any form; I blocked her messages, and I resolved to terminate all contact with her."
Zacharias eventually took the woman and her husband to court in 2016, after they attempted to have him pay them to keep quiet about the messages. Zacharias' attorneys filed a lawsuit against the couple under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. "The other side requested mediation rather than going to trial. We agreed to mediation and we reached an agreement in November 2017 to resolve the matter and dismiss my lawsuit," Zacharias says.
Word of the lawsuit and mediation had recently reached a few internet blogs and rumours began to circulate accusing Zacharias of wrongdoing. In the concluding paragraphs of his statement, Zacharias says, "Let me state categorically that I never met this woman alone, publicly or privately. The question is not whether I solicited or sent any illicit photos or messages to another woman—I did not, and there is no evidence to the contrary—but rather, whether I should have been a willing participant in any extended communication with a woman not my wife. The answer, I can unequivocally say, is no, and I fully accept responsibility. In all my correspondence with thousands of people in 45 years of ministry, I have never been confronted with a situation such as this, and God and my family and close friends know how grieved I have been."