As former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz works toward rebuilding his marriage after admitting to being unfaithful, the woman with whom he allegedly had an affair is speaking out.
Ranin Karim, who previously said her months-long romance with Lentz ended in October, told Good Morning America on Friday that while she was “devastated” by its end, her intention was never to hurt Lentz’s wife Laura.
“I feel bad for her,” said Karim, 34. “Woman to woman, I don’t think she deserved to be hurt the way that she did. I never meant to hurt her.”
It was allegedly Laura’s discovery of the affair that eventually led Lentz, 42, to break it off, despite Karim claiming she had tried to end it several times before to no avail.
“He called me at midnight and he said, ‘My wife found out.’ And, ‘I gotta go, I gotta go,’” she said. “I was devastated.”
A friend of the couple tells PEOPLE that Lentz and Laura are working hard to repair their relationship, and that the one-time mentor to Justin Bieber has been prioritizing family time with his wife and their three children.
“He messed up and is taking full responsibility for having an affair. He is taking time to work on his marriage, go through intense counseling with his wife and spend time with his kids,” the source says. “He is committed to rebuilding trust and fixing his marriage. In this time of COVID, they have been able to spend more time together. As a family watching movies, game nights, reading.”
Lentz publicly admitted to being unfaithful to Laura in a statement on Instagram that came just one day after his termination from Hillsong was announced on Nov. 4 by founder and senior pastor Brian Houston, who in part cited “a recent revelation of moral failures” as reason for his firing. He has not identified the person with whom he’d had an affair.
"This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions," he wrote in the lengthy post, adding that he was embarking on a "journey of rebuilding trust" with his wife and children and to "heal my own life and seek out the help that I need."
It was after seeing that Instagram post that Karim felt the need to go public, telling Vanity Fair in an interview published on Tuesday that she wanted to “speak my part.”
Karim, a jewelry designer from Palestine, said on GMA that Lentz told her he was married when they first met five months ago, but that he never wore a ring, and that she did not feel the need to judge him.
“I told him, ‘I know who you are and I’m not here to judge you, but I have a question,’” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Is something wrong with your marriage that you’re sitting here with me?’ He said, ‘No.’ He’s like, ‘It’s you.’”
Lentz allegedly told Karim not to Google him, and did not reveal his last name or job, but said he managed celebrities and traveled with them. She eventually learned the truth, and revealed that she’d attended Hillsong one time several years ago.
"I really wish I never met him," she told Vanity Fair. "I told him that many times because it was just, just like, what’s the point?"
Lentz is known for running in celebrity circles and notably baptized Justin Bieber years ago, according to a GQ profile published in 2015. He had been a pastor at the New York location of Hillsong since 2010 and previously attended Hillsong College, the church's training program, which is where he met Laura.
The church said in a statement last week that upon hearing from several people following Lentz’s firing, it would launch an “in-depth review and investigation to all concerns and any wider cultural issues.”
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