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Televangelist to Pay $156,000 to Settle Case Over Fake Covid Cure

Pastor Jim Bakker denied any wrongdoing under the settlement after prosecutors said he defrauded viewers of his TV show by claiming his Silver Solution product can treat Covid-19.

GALENA, Mo. (CN) --- Televangelist Jim Bakker and his Morningside Church will pay $156,000 in restitution to Missouri customers who bought the preacher’s Silver Solution product after he claimed it was a cure for Covid-19 on his national TV show.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced the settlement Wednesday morning, which prevents Bakker from selling or advertising Silver Solution as a way to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure any disease or illness.

“Today I’m pleased to announce that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office has obtained a consent judgment against Jim Bakker and Morningside Church Productions that results in $156,000 in restitution and strong safeguards to prevent the marketing of ‘Silver Solution’ as a cure or treatment for Covid and other medical issues,” Schmitt said in a statement. “My office will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of Missouri consumers, and will not hesitate to take action when those consumers are being defrauded.”

Stone County Circuit Court Judge Alan Blankenship officially signed off on the consent judgment Tuesday afternoon.

Bakker’s attorney, Derek Ankrom of Spencer Fane in Springfield, Missouri, said in a statement Wednesday that the pastor and his church “are pleased to have concluded this matter 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,” Ankrom 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.”

Schmitt’s office filed a lawsuit against Bakker and his Branson-based Morningside Church in March 2020. The Republican attorney general claims that Bakker, on at least 11 different broadcasts of "The Jim Bakker Show” between Feb. 12, 2020 and March 10, 2020, offered Silver Solution to viewers as a Covid-19 cure in exchange for a “contribution” of between $80 to $125, part of which went to the church.

According to the consent judgment, Bakker must return $90,000 to consumers who bought Silver Solution between Feb. 12, 2020 and March 10, 2020. Schmitt’s office said the preacher has already provided refunds to some customers, which combined with the additional $90,000 roughly adds up to $156,000.

Bakker and Morningside denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which states “the parties have agreed to this consent judgment in order to avoid substantial expense and the uncertainties of further litigation."

This isn’t the only litigation Bakker and Morningside have pending regarding their hawking of Silver Solution as a Covid-19 cure.

Last week, their attorney appeared in the Eighth Circuit attempting to revive a lawsuit against Arkansas and California officials over their attempts to investigate Bakker's sales of Silver Solution.

Bakker and Morningside sued officials from both states in the Western District of Missouri, claiming the investigative demands violated their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.

A federal judge dismissed the case based on lack of jurisdiction, prompting the appeal to the St. Louis-based Eighth Circuit. It is unclear whether Wednesday's settlement will affect that case, which the three-judge panel took under advisement.

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