Texas jury orders Alex Jones to pay parents of Sandy Hook victim more than $4 million in defamation suit

Posted 5 days ago

From WWW.CBSNEWS.COM

A Texas jury awarded the parents of one of the victims of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School over $4 million in the damages trial of "Infowars" host Alex Jones. The conspiracy theorist and far-right broadcaster had earlier been found liable for defamation in a default judgment issued by District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble over his false claims the 2012 shooting was "a hoax" in repeated comments over the past decade.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was one of 20 children and six adults killed during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, sued Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, in 2018. The couple originally sought at least $150 million in compensatory damages. Jurors voted first to determine how much of that Jones should be ordered to pay, and arrived at over $4 million. They will deliberate again to decide whether Heslin and Lewis are given an additional award for punitive damages, and, if they are, what that number will be.

Judge Guerra Gamble, who presided over the defamation suits brought against Jones in Texas, issued rare default judgments last fall that found Jones and Infowars liable for defamation and emotional distress. The judge's orders cited the harassment that Heslin, Lewis and other families of Sandy Hook victims endured at the hands of Jones' followers as a direct result of his allegations about the shooting, in addition to the defendant's "flagrant bad faith and callous disregard" for court procedures throughout the hearings.

The Sandy Hook tragedy remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in U. S. history. Jones acknowledged in court Wednesday that he knows "it's 100% real."

But for years Jones claimed the shooting was "staged," a "false flag" devised with intent to increase gun control, with "crisis actors" supposedly posing as the victims' grieving family members. He publicized these allegations on his Infowars website, which features stories and videos promoting outlandish conspiracy theories and is widely considered a "fake news" machine. The site has published, and in several instances retracted, a number of blatantly false stories in addition to those related to the Sandy Hook massacre. Jones has faced multiple lawsuits — including some filed by other families of Sandy Hook victims — as well as accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Court records show Jones made more than $165 million between 2015 and 2018 selling items like survivalist gear and dietary supplements on Infowars.... (Read more)