Renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has released a statement in response to allegations of inappropriate online sexual relationship with a woman, while his ministry addressed the assertions that he had misrepresented his academic credentials.
According to Christianity Today, Zacharias had recently settled a lawsuit with a Canadian couple whom he claimed to have attempted to extort him over messages that he had exchanged with the wife.
The lawsuit filed by Zacharias alleged that the "friendly correspondence" with the wife over the course of 2016 eventually came to a point when she had sent him "unwanted, offensive, sexually explicit language and photographs."
In a statement posted on his ministry's website on Sunday, Zacharias contended that he had never met the woman alone in public or in private.
"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 apologist wrote.
"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," he continued.
Zacharias reportedly met the couple in October 2014 at a conference in Ontario, and both parties kept in touch over email and Blackberry messenger. The apologist claimed that the wife kept crossing boundaries during their correspondences, even after he told her to stop and blocked her messages.
In his August 2017 lawsuit, the apologist stated that the wife "began expressing her love" for Zacharias, made sexually suggestive statements and sent photos of herself in "very scanty clothing."
The couple, however, claimed that Zacharias encouraged the relationship and that the apologist exercised his "controlling influence" over the wife and exploited her vulnerability to "satisfy your own sexual desires."
A letter from the Bryan Law Center had threatened to pursue litigation unless Zacharias sent a certified check in the amount of $5 million.
Zacharias' lawyers claimed that the woman's husband knew about the conversations all along and that they had conspired together in the hopes that the apologist would be caught in a compromising position.
The attorneys further noted that the couple had previously filed a lawsuit against an Ontario pastor, seeking $1 million in damages over allegations that they were coerced into making ill-advised loans and investments. The lawsuit was eventually dropped, but not before the pastor was temporarily suspended.
On Sunday, Zacharias noted that he had dropped his lawsuit against the couple on Nov. 9 after the couple requested mediation instead of going to trial, and after both parties reached a private settlement.
In a separate statement on Sunday, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) Public Relations Manager Ruth Malhotra addressed the assertions that the apologist had overstated his academic background and falsely implied that he had earned a doctoral degree.
Malhotra said that RZIM has made every effort to correct errors in Zacharias background and that the ministry was not previously aware of such errors.
Zacharias' biography on RZIM's website currently states that he had received a master of divinity degree from Trinity International University and that he has received 10 honorary doctorates, including a Doctor of Laws and a Doctor of Sacred Theology.
The statement explained that the "Dr." prefix had previously appeared before Zacharias name on the ministry's website and some of its materials as it was an "appropriate and acceptable practice" with honorary doctorates. However, it said that it will no longer include the prefix because it "can be contentious in certain circles."
Other sites, including publisher Penguin/Random House, have also made changes to Zacharias' biography. Within the past week, the publisher had replaced a line that said the apologist "holds three doctorate degrees" with a reference to the honorary doctorates instead.