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A jury found conspiracy theorist Alex Jones responsible for defamation, slander and emotional distress damages for Sandy Hook families. Jurists ordered the right-wing radio host to pay these families a total of $965 million.
For nearly a decade, Jones has been peddling lies about the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The 2012 shooting, which killed 26 people, including 20 children, left the small town of Sandy Hook, CT shattered.
Jones began using his radio program Infowars to bolster claims that the shooting was staged. For years, he accused the parents of being paid actors and claimed their children were not in fact dead. Believers in the conspiracy, known as Sandy Hook truthers, found a community in Jones’s show. As the Infowars audience and Jones’ profit both grew, his targeting of the parents became increasingly vitriolic.
Families receive justice after Alex Jones’s lies put their safety in jeopardy
In addition to the emotional distress of being forced to relive the tragedy, Jones’ followers began harassing the bereaved families online. A Jones supporter even publicized some of the family’s personal information. The harassment eventually morphed into death threats, menacing calls and violent letters.
Some parents even recalled receiving photographs of their own home sent to them by Infowars followers.
As a result, many families were forced to change phone numbers, delete their social media or even move.
Jones continued this lie until 2019, when the first lawsuits were filed against him. He then acknowledged the shooting was real, and claimed previous denials were the result of a “form of psychosis”.
Jones’ defense attorney, Norm Pattis, says he plans to appeal the verdict, calling it “a dark day for freedom of speech”.
The verdict, requiring Jones pay families nearly a billion dollars in damages, is likely drive Jones into bankruptcy.
The jury also decided that Alex Jones, whose net worth is estimated at under $300 million, must also pay the attorneys fees for the families. The judge in the case is set to determine a “reasonable amount” for that cost at a later date.