Alex Jones, who blamed Pulse massacre on LGBTQ+ people, must pay millions to Sandy Hook family
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $49 million in damages to the family of a six-year-old Sandy Hook victim after claiming the massacre was staged.
Jones, the owner of far-right conspiracy theory site Infowars, spread misinformation about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
The radio show host has repeatedly said that the Sandy Hook shooting was faked by the government to restrict gun rights, and that those involved, including grieving parents, were “crisis actors”.
He was sued in a $150 million defamation case by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis who was murdered in the shooting.
The two-week trial, which began on 25 July, was purely to decide how much Jones would pay in damages.
The parents won the defamation case, which said that the conspiracy theorist intentionally caused them emotional distress and prevented them from healing after their son’s murder, by default because Jones did not provide necessary documentation in response.
On Thursday (4 August), Jones was ordered to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages, and the next day, a jury in Texas ruled that he should pay a further $45.2 million in punitive damages.
The compensatory damages aim to repay the family for costs relating to Jones’ conspiracy theory, like hiring security for fear of an attack by Jones’ far-right supporters.
The punitive damages aim to deter Jones from repeating similar claims.
On Friday (5 August), Scarlett Lewis described her son’s bravery to the court, recalling how he tried to save his young friends after already being shot, while Lewis and Heslin’s lawyer appealed to the jury: “We ask that you send a very, very simple message and that is: Stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetisation of misinformation and lies. Please.”
During the course of the two-week defamation trial, Jones was accused by the parents’ lawyers of perjury, after he claimed under oath that he had never sent any texts relating to Sandy Hook.
In an unforgettable moment, the parents’ attorney revealed that Jones’ legal representation had accidentally sent him two years worth of text messages from Jones’ phone, showing that he had clearly discussed the Sandy Hook shooting. It is unclear whether Jones will face charges.
Despite admitting in court that the massacre was “100 per cent real”, Jones plans to appeal the judgement.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones blamed the Pulse massacre on LGBTQ+ people
Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has a long history of hateful and bizarre claims about the LGBTQ+ community, from insisting that Barack Obama had sex with 10 men per day, to claiming that lesbians want to eat people’s brains.
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In 2015, Jones claimed that chemicals in tap water will turn frogs gay.
He said: “What do you think tap water is? It’s a gay bomb, baby. And I’m not saying people didn’t naturally have homosexual feelings. I’m not even getting into it, quite frankly.
“I mean, give me a break. Do you think I’m like, oh, shocked by it, so I’m up here bashing it because I don’t like gay people?
“I don’t like ’em putting chemicals in the water that TURN THE FREAKIN’ FROGS GAY! Do you understand that? I’m sick of being social engineered, it’s not funny!”
He has also blamed the 2016 shooting at Orlando nightclub Pulse, which killed 49 mostly queer people, on the LGBTQ+ community.
Just days after the massacre, Jones accused the LGBTQ+ community of exaggerating violence “so you can sexualise my children and indoctrinate them into your cult”.