In the damages trial of “Infowars” host Alex Jones, a Texas jury awarded more than $4 million to the parents of a victim of the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.Conspiracy theorists and far-right broadcasters were spotted earlierIn a default judgment issued by District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble This “Scam” in repeated comments over the past decade.
Neil Hessling and Scarlett Lewis’ 6-year-old son, Jesse, are among those suing Jones and his media company in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. , The Free Speech System, 2018. The couple initially sought at least $150 million in damages. Jurors first voted on how much Jones should be required to pay, which ended up being more than $4 million. They will reconsider deciding whether to award Hesling and Lewis additional punitive damages, and if so, what that amount is.
Judge Guerra Gamble, who presides over Texas defamation lawsuit against Jones, issues rareLast fall, Jones and Infowars were held responsible for defamation and emotional distress. Judge’s order cites harassment suffered by Hessling, Lewis and other Sandy Hook victims’ families at the hands of Jones’ followers as a direct result of his allegations over the shooting, in addition to the defendant’s “blatant perfidy” in court proceedings throughout the hearing.
The Sandy Hook tragedy remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.Jones admitted in court Wednesday that he knew
But over the years Jones has claimed the shooting was “staged” and a “false flag” aimed at tightening gun control, with “crisis actors” allegedly posing as the grieving family members of the victims. He published the allegations on his Infowars website, which features stories and videos promoting outlandish conspiracy theories and is widely regarded as a “fake news” machine. In addition to stories related to the Sandy Hook massacre, the site has published stories that are blatantly false and, in some cases, retracted. Jones faces multiple lawsuits — including by families of other Sandy Hook victims — as well as allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment.
Court records show Jones made more than $165 million selling merchandise such as survival gear and dietary supplements on Infowars between 2015 and 2018.
Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars in Austin, Texas,last week. Jones was scolded by a judge in court on Tuesday for telling a jury that he complied with a pretrial evidence collection protocol and was bankrupt, which has yet to be determined.
Jones lost several defamation cases by default last year. The lawsuit filed by the families of victims in Sandy Hook, Texas and Connecticut, alleges that Jones described the shooting as a “huge hoax” that led to years of abuse by his followers. A group of families involved in a lawsuit also accused him of diverting funds from the free speech system before filing for bankruptcy.
hesling and lewisat this week’s Austin trial, and testify about how Jones’ efforts to spread lies about mass shootings turned their lives into “hell on earth.” Those who believed the conspirators and his claims about Sandy Hook continued to verbally and physically harass and threaten them, the parents said. They recalled being shot in their homes and cars and sending them threatening emails.
“I can’t even describe the hell on earth that I and others have had to endure for the past nine-and-a-half years because of Alex Jones’ recklessness and negligence,” Hessling said.
“It’s the fear of your life,” Lewis said. “You don’t know what they’re going to do.”
Jones appeared in court on Tuesday, allowing the plaintiff to speak to him in person.
“I want to tell you in person. … First of all, I’m a mother and I know you’re a father. My son exists,” Lewis said, citing Jones’ comments to Infowars suggesting she was facing a certain Actors of a government program. As Lewis points out, Jones appears to have continued to promote the idea in his talk series, just the morning before the final debate.
“You’re still trying to say on your show today, implying that I’m an actress, I’m deep. You had this week. I don’t get it,” Lewis told Jones. “Truth — the truth is so important to our world. The truth is the foundation of our reality, and we have to agree to that in order to have a civil society. Sandy Hook is a last word.”
“Jesse is real. I’m a real mom,” she said. “…I know you know, that’s the problem.”
The Associated Press provided reporting.