He's known as one of this generation's leading defenders of Christianity. But this week Ravi Zacharias is defending his own integrity.
The founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) released a statement addressing a lawsuit involving a married woman who accused him of soliciting nude photos from her through email correspondence.
Zacharias says he met the woman and her husband at a conference in Canada in October of 2014.
"The wife asked if I would reach out to her husband because he had questions about the Christian faith. As requested, I followed up by sending an email and a book to him, and invited him to consider attending one of our educational programs at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)," Zacharias explained in the statement.
He went on to describe meeting the couple again at an event several months later, after which they invited Zacharias and his wife to dinner.
"Subsequently, she began to contact me via the email address I had used to contact her husband after first meeting them. 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," said Zacharias.
He explained that, in 2016, the woman informed him that she planned to tell her husband about the pictures and claim Zacharias had solicited them. Only a few months later, he received a letter from the couple's attorney demanding money.
Zacharias filed a lawsuit against the couple, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. They responded with a request to settle the matter through mediation, outside of court. He says the matter has been resolved, but he is prevented from discussing the claims further because of legal reasons.
He did clarify that both sides paid their own legal expenses and no funds from his ministry were used.
"I have learned a difficult and painful lesson through this ordeal. As a husband, father, grandfather, and leader of a Christian ministry, I should not have engaged in ongoing communication with a woman other than my wife. I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues," Zacharias said in his statement.
"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," he continued.