The discredited far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones would initially seem to be done. For the years he spent spreading misinformation about the event on his show InfoWars, and for making the families’ life a “living nightmare,” a Connecticut court has ordered him to pay almost $1.5 billion in damages to the relatives of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting.
Jones filed for personal bankruptcy on November 30 in a Texas court document, while Free Speech Systems, the parent corporation of Infowars, filed for bankruptcy in July. However, Jones was back on Infowars the next day, appearing unconcerned about his probable financial ruin as he talked with Kanye West in a horrifying piece about how much the rapper “likes” Hitler.
Judge rules for Sandy Hook mass shooting victim families
Matt York/ AP | Alex Jones was found liable for defaming Sandy Hook victims’ families
A Connecticut judge sentenced right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Thursday to pay an extra $473 million in punitive damages for his false statements on the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
After three weeks of evidence in a state court in Waterbury, Connecticut, a jury returned a decision significantly more than the $49 million Jones was ordered to pay in August in a case similar to the one filed by two other Sandy Hook parents. It applies to both Jones and Free Speech Systems LLC, the business that runs Jones’ website Infowars. In July, FSS filed for bankruptcy.
More than a dozen family members of the 20 children and six staff members killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 were among the plaintiffs in the Connecticut lawsuit. Years ago, Jones maintained that the tragedy was staged as part of a government scheme to remove Americans’ firearms access.
Jim Bourg/ Reuters | Infowars profits from “preaching apocalypse”
Jones, a well-known fan of former president Donald Trump who has reciprocated the compliment, is a careless proponent of conspiracies. Trump addressed Jones in late 2015 as he intensified his presidential campaign, “Your reputation is great. “I’m not going to fail you,”
Years ago, Mr. Jones disseminated the myth that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, on 14 December 2012, which murdered 20 first graders and six teachers, was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by the government as an excuse to seize weapons from Americans. He claimed the families were “crisis actors” involved in the scheme, which sparked years of online harassment, in-person conflict, and death threats from others who shared his conspiracy idea.
Joe Buglewicz/ Getty Images | Jones got his start in public access broadcasting in Austin, Texas, in the 1990s.
The relatives of the 10 Sandy Hook victims brought three defamation lawsuits against Mr. Jones in 2018, which were originally four. Jones was found guilty by default by judges in Texas and Connecticut after he failed to provide financial records, evidence, and documentation as required by the courts. This resounding victory for the families and set the ground for the damages trials.
The second trial to establish how much Mr. Jones owes the families for the anguish he has brought about was the damages trial in Connecticut. In the first trial, which took place in Texas this past summer, Mr. Jones was ordered to pay around $50 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis perished at Sandy Hook. A third trial has not yet been planned in the Texas case brought by Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah Pozner was slain at Sandy Hook.