Televangelist Jim Bakker agrees to refund Arkansans who bought 'cure-all' products he peddled

Televangelist Jim Bakker is shown in Charlotte, N.C., in this March 2, 2018 file photo. Bakker now runs a southwestern Missouri church. (AP/Chuck Burton)

Televangelist Jim Bakker and his church production company will pay $60,524 in restitution to settle a deceptive-trade practices lawsuit brought by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge over the way Bakker touted a silver-based concoction as a cure-all for sickness under an agreement approved Friday.

Bakker and company, Morningside Church Productions Inc., do not admit wrongdoing, and they won't have to pay any fines if the 385 Arkansas residents who received the colloidal-silver products through "The Jim Bakker Show" receive their money within two months. If the defendants don't pay on time, they will be required to pay $202,500 in fines and legal expenses, with the possibility of further sanctions, the settlement states.

The seven-page settlement, signed by Bakker and by Deputy Attorney General Shannon Halijan, bars the defendants from offering, selling or advertising any colloidal silver or silver-salt product as a treatment or preventative for any disease.

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According to the lawsuit, the money will reimburse the Arkansas residents who either bought the products, marketed as Silver Solution, outright or received them in exchange for a donation to Bakker's Morningside Church in Blue Eye, Mo., between Feb. 12, 2020, and March 10, 2020.

Rutledge sued five months later, stating in the suit that "It is unconscionable, false or deceptive to advertise and sell colloidal silver marketed as a cure, treatment, prevention or mitigation for covid-19 or any other disease without approval from the [federal Food and Drug Administration]."

"Defendants exploited Arkansans' fears and falsely told consumers that defendants' colloidal silver products could cure, eliminate, kill, or deactivate covid-19 when there is, in fact, no vaccine, pill, potion or other product available to treat or cure the virus," the suit states.

In June, Bakker and the production company agreed to pay $156,000 restitution to settle a similar lawsuit by the Missouri attorney general that accused Bakker of making false claims that Silver Solution could cure covid-19.

Bakker took Rutledge and three other public attorneys to federal court in a lawsuit to try to block the investigation into his colloidal silver sales in August 2020. A federal judge in Missouri dismissed Bakker's suit for lack of jurisdiction.

"Bakker has historically cloaked his illegal action in the name of religion, yet he continues to deceive Arkansans for his own glory and wealth by peddling unsafe and ineffective potions as a cure for covid-19," Rutledge said at the time.

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According to the FDA, colloidal silver products are frequently marketed as over-the-counter cures without adequate data to support their "safety and effectiveness."

In March 2020, as efforts to sell colloidal silver as a covid cure came to light, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission issued a public warning that the products were unapproved drugs that "pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law."