within hours When the shots were fired, Jones told his audience it was staged as a pretext for confiscation of guns. Within days, he began suggesting that the grieving parents were actors. In the years that followed, he repeatedly said the Holocaust was faked.
The families testified during the trial that the lies spread by Jones led to harassment and threats from conspiracy theorists who accused them of faking their own children’s deaths. They described feeling unsafe at home and being on high alert in public. Some families moved out of Newtown.
The largest single prize of $120 million went to Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter Emily was killed in the shooting. Jones has mocked Parker for years as an actor. The plaintiffs also included an FBI agent who responded to the shooting.he is Awarded $90 million in damages.
After the unanimous verdict, families gathered outside the courthouse to thank the jury.
“The truth matters,” said Erica Lafferty, daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who was killed at the school. “Those who profit from the pain and trauma of others will pay for what they do.”
The amount of damages awarded indicates that jurors found Jones’ conduct to be particularly reprehensible and harmful. Immediately after the verdict was announced, Jones told the audience that he would appeal the decision.
First, they lost their children. Then the conspiracy theories started. Now, Newtown’s parents are fighting back.
The damages announced Wednesday are intended to compensate victims for their reputational damage and emotional distress. A judge will decide on punitive damages next month.
Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor and First Amendment expert, said he could not recall another defamation case of this magnitude.
“It does send a message that juries care about reputation and lies — especially when they care about those who are sympathetic,” Walklock said. “It’s hard to get more sympathy than the Sandy Hook family.”
The Connecticut case is one of three defamation lawsuits filed against Jones by the victims’ relatives, who say they want to prevent other families from suffering similar abuse.
In August, a jury in a separate Texas case said Jones must pay nearly $50 million to the parents of Jesse Lewis, 6, who was killed in Sandy Hook. However, due to state restrictions on such awards, the actual amount paid will be much smaller.
Jones is a reckless propagator of conspiracy theories and a key supporter of former President Trump, which Trump applauds. “You have a great reputation,” Trump told Jones as he ramped up his presidential bid in late 2015. “I will not let you down.”
How extraordinary conspiracy theorist Alex Jones got Donald Trump’s ear
In 2018, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Twitter all removed Jones from their platforms, saying he violated their policies on abusive and harmful content.
Earlier this year, Jones admitted in court that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was “100 percent true” and regretted his statements as he faced multiple defamation lawsuits. But last month, he told his audience again that people were right to question the Holocaust, saying: “I really don’t know what’s going on there.”
Jones violated his legal obligations by refusing to share key evidence — including financial records and website traffic data — with the Connecticut plaintiffs. Judge Barbara Bellis handed him a default judgment finding him liable for defamation. The jury’s sole task was to determine “the extent of the damage,” Bellis said at the start of the deliberations.
Jones’ financial situation is unclear. In the Texas trial, Bernard Pettingill, a forensic economist hired by the plaintiffs, estimated Jones and his firm had a net worth of as much as $270 million. Pettingill also said Jones withdrew $62 million in 2021.
Jones has said his business is struggling: Earlier this year, Infowars and its parent company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection.
In testimony last month, Jones was largely unrepentant. Jones lashed out when family lawyer Christopher Mattei told Jones to show more respect for relatives in court.
“Will this be a fight? Are we in China?” Jones said Mao-era rallies were used to condemn and humiliate. “I’ve said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying sorry.”
All 15 plaintiffs — relatives of eight victims and an FBI agent — have testified at the trial over the past month. They describe receiving threats and hate mail from conspiracy theorists who they consider “crisis participants”.
Francine Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son Ben was killed in Sandy Hook, talks about how pranksters used her career as a singer and performer to spread sinister theories about the family. They also circulated a photo of her eldest son surviving the shooting in a chorus performance, suggesting no children were killed at the school.
“It’s one thing to lose a child,” Wheeler said. “It’s a whole other thing when people take things on the internet about your deceased boy, your surviving child, your husband and everything you’ve done in your life and harass you.”
Parker’s daughter Emily was killed in the shooting. He was the first parent to speak publicly after the massacre. Just before Parker’s painful statement to the press, he gave a brief nervous smile when he saw reporters gathered. Jones seized the moment as evidence of the alleged hoax, playing the seconds-long clip again and again in the years following the shooting.
Parker described being ashamed of the harassment his family faced, believing he had somehow “brought this to everyone”. Parker, whose voice was shaking and his body trembling, told the court he was still responsible, although logically he knew it wasn’t his fault.
Former FBI agent William Oldenburg responded to the shooting scene on Dec. 11. January 14, 2012. He has also been the target of conspiracy theories.
Mattei, the family’s attorney, asked Oldenburg if what he saw at school that day was fake. “Okay. No, sir,” he replied. Ma Tai asks if there are any actors there. “No,” Oldenburg said emotionally. “It’s horrible, it’s horrible.”
“Their children were slaughtered,” Oldenburg told the family. “I saw it with my own eyes, and now they have to sit here and listen to me.”