Alex Jones ordered to pay $965 million for Sandy Hook lies

“No amount of money will ever bring back the beautiful lives lost on that tragic day, but this decision is resounding and long-awaited justice,” Blumenthal said in a tweet.

The verdict is the second major judgment against the host of InfoWars – a far-right outlet that peddles conspiracy theories and disinformation – for its relentless promotion of the lie that the 2012 massacre never happened. and that the grieving families seen in the news were actors hired as part of a plot to take people’s guns away.

“No one should ever have to endure the kind of harassment and persecution that Alex Jones caused, especially the families of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut said on Twitter. The jury “sent a strong message” that Jones’ actions were “shameful,” Lamont said.

It is a lawsuit brought by the relatives of five children and three educators killed in the mass shooting, as well as an FBI agent who was among the first responders at the scene. A Texas jury in August awarded nearly $50 million to parents of another child killed.

“There will be more Alex Jones in this world, but what they learned here today is that they will absolutely be held accountable,” said Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, was the director of Sandy Hook, in a statement after the verdict was read. Lafferty said the verdict was one of many moments since the shooting in which she just wanted to call her mother, who was killed at school.

In appearances on Wednesday, families of the victims said their motives in the lawsuit ranged from retrieving stories from loved ones to preventing Jones from further inciting others to harass.

“Money is all Alex Jones cares about, and the only way to even start to start explaining – I don’t know, how he made us feel – is to punch it in the pocket,” said Lafferty later Wednesday on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Robbie Parker, whose daughter was killed in the rampage, and Chris Mattei, an attorney for the victims’ families, called on Jones viewers to stop supporting him. Mattei said it would be good for the verdict to completely shut down Jones and his business.

“Since September 11, [Jones has] walked in the shadow of death,” Mattei said. He added, “This is not a business model that should be sustainable in the United States of America.”

It’s also possible Jones could be asked to hand over additional damages; under Connecticut law, a judge could also rule that he owes punitive damages in addition to those compensatory damages, Mattei said on MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight.”

The Connecticut lawsuit featured tearful testimony from parents and siblings of the victims, who recounted how they had been threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the lies told on Jones’ show.

Strangers showed up at their house to record them. People made abusive comments on social media. Lafferty testified that people sent rape threats to his home. Mark Barden has told how conspiracy theorists urinated on the grave of his 7-year-old son Daniel and threatened to dig up the coffin.

Jones, for his part, mocked the verdict live on his Infowars platform.

“I don’t have any money, so it’s a big joke,” he said.

Testifying at trial, Jones admitted that he was wrong about Sandy Hook. The shooting was real, he said. But both in the courtroom and on his show, he was provocative.

He called the proceedings “kangaroo court”, mocked the judge, called the plaintiffs’ lawyer an ambulance chaser and called the case an affront to free speech rights. He claimed it was a plot by Democrats and the media to silence him and bankrupt him.

“I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ hundreds of times before and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” he said during his testimony.

Twenty children and six adults died in the shooting of December 14, 2012. The libel trial took place at a courthouse in Waterbury, Connecticut, about 20 miles from Newtown, where the attack took place.

The lawsuit accused Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, of using the massacre to grow its audience and make millions of dollars. Pundits testified that Jones’ viewership grew when he made Sandy Hook a subject of the show, as did his income from product sales.

In the Texas lawsuit and the Connecticut lawsuit, judges found the company liable for damages by default after Jones failed to cooperate with court rules on sharing evidence, including failing to turn over records which could have shown whether Infowars had profited from knowingly spreading false information. on mass killings.

Because he has already been found liable, Jones was barred from mentioning free speech rights and other topics during his testimony.

Jones now faces a third trial, in Texas later this year, in a lawsuit brought by the parents of another child killed in the shooting.

It’s unclear how many verdicts Jones can afford. At the trial in Texas, he testified that he could not afford any judgment over $2 million. Free speech systems filed for bankruptcy protection. But an economist testified in the proceedings in Texas that Jones and his company were worth up to $270 million.

“We will implement this verdict,” Mattei said on MSNBC, “no matter how long it takes.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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