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Jim Bakker, his church settle lawsuit over COVID-19 claims

Jim Bakker, his church settle lawsuit over COVID-19 claims

Jim Bakker and his southwestern Missouri church will pay restitution of $156,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused the TV pastor of falsely claiming that a health supplement could cure COVID-19By JIM SALTER Associated PressJune 23, 2021, 9:38 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleO’FALLON, Mo. — Jim Bakker and his southwestern Missouri church will pay restitution of $156,000 to settle a lawsuit that accuses the TV pastor of falsely claiming a health supplement could cure COVID-19.Missouri court records show that a settlement agreement was filed Tuesday. It calls for refunds to people who paid money or gave contributions to obtain a product known as Silver Solution in the early days of the pandemic.The settlement also prohibits Bakker and Morningside Church Productions Inc. from advertising or selling Silver Solution “to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure any disease or illness.” Bakker, in the agreement, does not admit wrongdoing.Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued Bakker and Morningside in March 2020. Schmitt sought an injunction ordering Bakker to stop selling Silver Solution as a treatment for COVID-19 on his streaming TV program, The Jim Bakker Show. The lawsuit said Bakker and a guest made the cure claim during 11 episodes in February and March of 2020.Schmitt said in a news release on Wednesday that Bakker has already made restitution to many consumers, and must pay back another $90,000 to others.The hour-long Jim Bakker Show is filmed in southwestern Missouri. The consent agreement notes that during the program, Silver Solution was offered to those who agreed to contribute $80 to $125.Baker’s attorneys — Derek Ankrom and former Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon — said in a joint statement that Bakker and Morningside Church Productions are pleased to put the matter behind them so they can “continue the important work of Morningside Church.” They noted that the agreement includes “no findings whatsoever that our clients violated any laws or misled” consumers.Nixon had previously claimed that Bakker was being unfairly targeted “by those who want to crush his ministry and force his Christian television program off the air,” and that Bakker did not claim that Silver Solution was a cure for COVID-19.The lawsuit cited a discussion on the program on Feb. 12, 2020, in which Bakker spoke with Sherrill Sellman, referring to her as a “naturopathic doctor” and a “natural health expert.”“This influenza that is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective?” Bakker asks. Sellman, according to the lawsuit, replies: “Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours.”“Yeah,” Bakker says.“Totally eliminate it, kills it. Deactivates it,” Sellman replies, according to the lawsuit.Also in March 2020, U.S. regulators warned Bakker’s company and six others to stop selling items using what the government called false claims that they could treat the coronavirus or keep people from catching it. Letters sent jointly by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission warned the companies that their products for treating COVID-19 were fraudulent, “pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law.”Silver Solution, a form of colloidal silver, consists of silver particles suspended in a liquid. The solution is often described by manufacturers as having the power to boost the immune system and cure diseases. But it has no known benefit in the body when ingested, according to officials with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a federal scientific research agency.Experts say ingesting colloidal silver can have serious side effects. The NCCIH says it can turn skin blue when silver builds up in the body’s tissue.Nixon, who served two terms as governor from 2009 to 2017 and is now a partner at the Dowd Bennett law firm in St. Louis, said Bakker immediately complied with orders to stop offering Silver Solution on his show and ministry website after receiving the warning letters from the FDA and FTC.Meanwhile, Arkansas’ attorney general filed a lawsuit similar to Missouri’s in June 2020. That case is still pending.

St. Louis gun-waving couple pleads guilty to misdemeanors

St. Louis gun-waving couple pleads guilty to misdemeanors

A St. Louis couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators last year have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor chargesBy JIM SALTER Associated PressJune 17, 2021, 9:58 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleST. LOUIS — A St. Louis couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor charges, but the man left the courthouse defiantly pledging to “do it again” if faced with the same circumstances.Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000. Her husband, Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was fined $750. They also agreed to give up the weapons they used during the confrontation.When several hundred demonstrators marched past their home in June of 2020, the couple waved weapons at them. They claimed the protesters were trespassing and that they feared for their safety.The McCloskeys, both of them lawyers in their 60s, wore blue blazers and spoke calmly in answering questions from Judge David Mason during Thursday’s hearing. Mason asked Mark McCloskey if he acknowledged that his actions put people at risk of personal injury. He replied, “I sure did your honor.”Mark McCloskey, who announced in May that he was running for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri, was unapologetic after the hearing.“I’d do it again,” he said from the courthouse steps in downtown St. Louis. “Any time the mob approaches me, I’ll do what I can to put them in imminent threat of physical injury because that’s what kept them from destroying my house and my family.”The McCloskeys’ defense lawyer, Joel Schwartz, said after the hearing the couple had hoped to raise money by donating Mark’s rifle to charity, but acknowledged that it was an unusual request.Because the charges are misdemeanors, the McCloskeys do not face the possibility of losing their law licenses and can continue to own firearms.On the courthouse steps after the hearing, special prosecutor Richard Callahan said the misdemeanor plea was reasonable noting the McCloskeys called the police, no shots were fired and no one was hurt.“But I think that their conduct was a little unreasonable in the end,” he said. “I don’t think people should view this case as some type of betrayal or assault on the Second Amendment. We still have the Second Amendment rights. It’s just that the Second Amendment does not permit unreasonable conduct.”The June 28, 2020, protests came weeks after George Floyd’s death under a Minneapolis police officer’s knee. Mark McCloskey emerged with an AR-15-style rifle, and Patricia McCloskey waved a semiautomatic pistol, according to the indictment. Cellphone video captured the confrontation. No shots were fired and no one was hurt.The McCloskeys were indicted by a grand jury in October on felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. Callahan later amended the charges to give jurors the alternative of convictions of misdemeanor harassment instead of the weapons charge. Under that alternative, the evidence tampering count would be dropped.An investigation by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office led to the initial indictments — and harsh backlash from several Republican leaders. Then-President Donald Trump spoke out in defense of the couple, whose newfound celebrity earned them an appearance via video at the Republican National Convention.Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has said that if the McCloskeys are convicted, he’d pardon them. A spokeswoman for Parson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after the hearing.Callahan, a longtime judge and former U.S. attorney, was appointed special prosecutor after a judge in December ruled that Gardner created an appearance of impropriety by mentioning the McCloskey case in fundraising emails before the August Democratic primary. Gardner went on to win reelection.