Third Sandy Hook parent wins defamation case against Alex Jones

US radio host Alex Jones called the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting a "hoax"

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 06 October 2021 07:08
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<p>Newtown Shooting Infowars</p>

Newtown Shooting Infowars

A third parent of a slain Sandy Hook child has won a defamation case against US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who called the deadly 2012 shooting at the elementary school fake.

Neil Heslin will join two other parents — Scarlett Lewis and Lenny Pozner — who won separate defamation cases against Mr Jones last week, in having his case heard by a jury to determine damages.

On 14 December 2012, 20 children and six adults were shot dead in Sandy Hooks Elementary School, Connecticut, after a gunman opened fire in one of the worst school shootings in US history.

Mr Jones, who is the founder of right-wing website Infowars in Texas, claimed on his radio show and website that the event was “completely fake with actors,” “synthetic” and a “giant hoax” by supporters of gun control and mainstream media.

He faces a slew of legal cases by several parents of the victims. While he has acknowledged the shooting in court documents, he said that he has the right to be wrong under the First Amendment.

After the default judgment last week, Mr Jones and his attorney Nick Pattis said in a statement that “the First Amendment was crucified.”

Ruling in favour of Mr Heslin, Travis county district court judge Maya Guerra Gamble wrote: “In reaching this decision, this court has considered lesser remedies ... and determined they would be inadequate in light of the history of [Jones’] conduct in this court.”

She added: “[A]n escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective in deterring the abuse.”

According to Bill Ogden, one of the attorneys representing the parents in separate cases against Mr Jones in Texas, Tuesday’s judgment gets the families “a major step closer to bringing ... closure to this horrific experience.”

“We look forward to completing discovery on the damages that were caused by Alex Jones and Infowars’ five-year campaign of spreading harassing misinformation,” Mr Ogden added.

The defamation cases in Texas are separate from two defamation lawsuits filed against Mr Jones and Infowars in Connecticut superior court by eight families of children killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Judge Barbara Bellis has also threatened to issue a default order against Jones if he doesn’t comply with discovery orders which imply turning over pretrial documents.

Mr Jones has lost a range of defamation suits relating to the shooting. In 2019, he was asked to pay $100,000 (£76,000) to the parents of a 6-year-old who was killed in the shooting. He has also been banned from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for hate speech and abusive behaviour.

He was also charged last month by US prosecutors with unlawfully breaching the US Capitol grounds during the 6 January riot by supporters of then-president Donald Trump .

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