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Televangelist Jim Bakker Agrees To Refund Missouri Consumers Who Bought Fake COVID Cure

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Chuck Burton/AP
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Televangelist Jim Bakker, shown here in 2018, was sued by Missouri's Attorney General for selling a false remedy to treat the coronavirus.

Bakker offered "Silver Solution" to viewers in return for “donations” of $80 or $125.

Televangelist Jim Bakker and his ministry have agreed to refund more than $115,000 to Missouri residents who paid for a fake coronavirus cure they peddled last year.

The consent judgment, entered Tuesday in Stone County Circuit Court in southwest Missouri, resolves a lawsuit brought by the Missouri Attorney General’s office in March 2020.

The lawsuit alleged that Bakker and Morningside Church Productions, which does business as Jim Bakker Show Ministry, hawked a product called “Silver Solution” that they claimed could kill or deactivate the coronavirus and boost people’s immune systems.

The product, which also went under the name “Silver Sol” and “Optivida Silver Solution,” was made by American Biotech Labs.

Bakker, who gained fame in the 1970s and 1980s as the host of The PTL Club with his then-wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, promoted the product on the Jim Bakker Show and on the show’s website. The show aired across the country.

Bakker offered the product to viewers in return for “donations” of $80 or $125.

During a broadcast of the show that aired on Feb. 12, 2020, Sherill Sellman, who was identified as a “naturopathic doctor” and “natural health expert,” said, “Silver Sol has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV.”

In fact, there were no known treatments or cures for the coronavirus at the time – which was noted by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission in a warning letter they sent to Bakker in March 2020.

As part of the consent judgment, Bakker and his ministry denied wrongdoing but said they agreed to the judgment to avoid the expense and uncertainty of further litigation.

In a statement, Bakker's attorneys, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Derek Ankrom, said Bakker and Morningside Church Productions were "pleased to have concluded this matter so amicably so that they can continue the important work of Morningside Church."

"The Court’s judgment entered yesterday made no findings whatsoever that our clients violated any laws or misled any of their partners," they said. "We are appreciative of Attorney General Schmitt and his office for recognizing, and endeavoring to preserve, the vital and fundamental religious freedoms and First Amendment rights of Morningside Church and its partners in resolving this suit.”

Bakker stepped down from The PTL Club after a sex scandal and was later convicted of defrauding his viewers out of millions of dollars. He served five years in federal prison.

In a news release, the Missouri Attorney General’s office said that restitution checks would be mailed within the next 30 days to Missouri consumers who bought Silver Solution. It said Bakker had already sent refunds to some customers but still owes about $90,000.

As a reporter covering breaking news and legal affairs, I want to demystify often-complex legal issues in order to expose the visible and invisible ways they affect people’s lives. I cover issues of justice and equity, and seek to ensure that significant and often under-covered developments get the attention they deserve so that KCUR listeners and readers are equipped with the knowledge they need to act as better informed citizens. Email me at dan@kcur.org.
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