Messages posted to a Telegram group run by Kerri Rivera, a pseudo-medical expert who advocates for the use of a dangerous bleach solution to “cure” autism and other serious illnesses, say she’s being criminally charged as a result of advice she gave to a parent. A person who said they were speaking on Rivera’s behalf posted a message, ostensibly written from her perspective, to her Telegram group on July 21; the message said that her home was raided by police on July 13 and that she is accused of causing bodily harm to a child whose parent she advised on Telegram. It also called the claim that she’d harmed the child “impossible.”
Rivera is a longtime advocate for the use of chlorine dioxide, a substance that, when mixed with citric acid, forms a powerful and dangerous bleaching agent. She has falsely claimed it can “cure” autism and, more recently, suggested it can treat COVID-19. (Chlorine dioxide is also marketed under the name Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, most infamously by the Genesis II Church in Florida, run by a man named Mark Grenon. Grenon and three of his sons were recently indicted on charges related to their sale of MMS.)
Journalists and activists monitoring Rivera’s activities believe she moved several years ago to Bremerhaven, Germany. Bremerhaven police declined to comment on the reported raid, writing, “Unfortunately, we are not allowed to give you any information about individual persons for reasons of data protection.” They referred Motherboard to the Bremerhaven prosecutor’s office, which did not respond. Several emails sent to Rivera’s email accounts from multiple accounts bounced back or went unanswered.
The Telegram message attributed to Rivera said, “I am not allowed freedom of speech,” then seemed to suggest that Rivera had been fined or criminally investigated previously. “I created a 3 minute video in January of 2020,” it read, “sharing hope and healing with anyone who would be interested. That led to a 150,000usd [sic] case. Obviously ‘they’ want to shut me up. After receiving a letter from the government that the case is over only five weeks ago. On July 13, 2021 at 6 am a team of 11-14 police invaded our home and ransaked [sic] it as if I were a drug dealer. They took supplements and all of the electronics from computers to cell phones. Once gone, we were left with a search warrant and confusion.”
The message claimed that Rivera hasn’t seen any clients in person and only does online consulting. “I do not work with any family from the country I reside in just in case they would decide to overstep their legal power. The case they are stating is with a child I have never met who was supposedly on a telegram group and they claim to have been bodily harmed by me which is impossible.” It added that the other person who might be the subject of the complaint is Rivera's stepson, “who I have not ever seen in 7.5 years since he was in Mexico where I lived.”
Rivera, formerly a Chicago real estate agent, began advocating for the use of chlorine dioxide as a bogus autism cure and in 2015 was banned from marketing her treatments in Illinois; she was subpoenaed after presenting at AutismOne, a yearly anti-vaccine conference usually held in the Chicago suburbs. By that time, she was already living in Mexico, but she’s believed to have relocated to Germany about two years ago. Over the years, she began marketing a variety of dubious supplements and products, which she’s eagerly adapted for the COVID-19 era. In September 2020, she received a warning letter from the FDA saying some of her products “misleadingly represented them as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.”
Two activists, Fiona O’Leary and Melissa Eaton, both say they reported Rivera to German authorities. Eaton, a U.S.-based activist who’s gone undercover in Facebook groups where parents are discussing giving their kids chlorine dioxide, told Motherboard that she reported Rivera to German police and consumer protection agencies.
“This is incredible,” O’Leary said. She’s an Irish advocate for autistic people who’s frequently campaigned against Rivera and other chlorine dioxide and MMS peddlers for the better part of a decade. She says that she reported Rivera to investigators in Bremerhaven two years ago, and that the Telegram case Rivera appears to be referencing is one that she alerted German authorities to at the time. O’Leary is autistic herself, as are some of her five children. Campaigning against Rivera and people like her, she said, “has been eight years of my life.” In 2019, O’Leary says, she received a letter from a German lawyer, identifying themselves as representing Rivera and her husband, threatening to sue O’Leary for disclosing “both personal and private data of our clients as well as wrong allegations about them.” (O’Leary provided screenshots of the letter to Motherboard.) “I told them to go to hell,” O’Leary recalls, “and I never heard back.” (O’Leary is also currently being criminally investigated herself, the Irish Times reports, after she accused an ultra-conservative religious group, the Society of Saint Pius X Resistance, of fomenting hatred against Jewish people. The Times reports that the Society’s founder, an ex-Catholic Bishop, “recently gave a sermon in Cork linking Jewish people to the start of Covid-19 and calling them “master servants of the devil.” O’Leary told Motherboard that she’d had her DNA forcibly taken from her and had been detained, adding: “I’m not charged yet, but they treated me like a criminal.”)
The message on Telegram indicated Rivera recently appeared before a judge. “The judge says that since I have done so much harm to these 2 people that the statute of limitation is 10 years and not the 5 years of minor crimes and misdemeanors. They have no proof. These are hearsay and accusations. Yet, having all of my computers, hard drives and phones, there is no telling what creative thing they will try. I am certain that they want to shut me up because I have excellent solutions for the issues plaguing society today.” It also suggested that she believed she would be murdered in jail: “If the judge decides to put me in jail as I await trial who knows what might be done. They suicide people like me in jail.” It then linked to a fundraising page for her legal expenses, which now appears to be offline.
Rivera has operated two Telegram groups devoted to giving bogus health advice, one in Spanish and one in English (the Spanish-language group focuses more heavily on the supposed benefits of a ketogenic diet, with only occasional mentions of MMS). In the English-language group, as group members demanded to know why Rivera wasn’t responding to their messages, an administrator named Leon Edwards repeated on Saturday and Sunday that Rivera had been raided by police and that her computers and phone had been taken. (Edwards is a UK-based promoter of chlorine dioxide who was the subject of an exposé by the BBC in 2015, and has been linked to Genesis II Church.)
Edwards also wrote in the Telegram group that Rivera had taken down a web page for a book she’s sold for years that promotes chlorine dioxide as an autism cure. “Kerri was advised to take down the book page,” he wrote. Another person in the group, who’d posted the original message on Rivera’s behalf, suggested that while she’s out of commission, group members contact Mark Grenon of Genesis II.
“I hope she gets jail,” O’Leary told Motherboard by phone. She paused for a moment, then broke into tears. “And I hope she thinks during that time about what she’s done to people like my children.”