A Texas jury has decided that conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones must pay punitive damages to the tune of USD 45.2 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim. These damages, awarded on Friday, relate to a defamation lawsuit.
Jones and his InfoWars radio show declared the 2012 school shooting a hoax. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis who died in the shooting, sued Jones for defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress” in 2018. A reporter on InfoWars claimed that Heslin lied about holding his dead son in his arms to trick people into thinking the shooting happened.
District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued default judgments against Jones in October last year, citing Jones’ “pattern of bad faith in dealing with lawsuits by parents of two children killed in the […] shooting.”
On Thursday, the jury decided that Jones must pay USD 4.1 million in compensatory damages to Lewis’ parents, who sought USD 150 million.
The Sandy Hook lawsuits, three in total, involved “malicious false statements about […] the school shooting” made by Jones and InfoWars. The lawsuits sought “to hold Mr. Jones accountable for his vile assertions that the Sandy Hook parents were lying about what happened to their children, as well as his claims that these parents conspired with the media to fake news coverage.”
Jones uploaded a video message on InfoWars responding to the jury’s verdicts and explaining that he understood “what [he] did to those families was wrong, but [he] didn’t do it on purpose.” He admits in this video that the verdict was for more money than he and his company have, but they “are going to work on trying to make restitution.”