A jury has slapped the radio host with a huge damage order for claiming that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged.
Controversial radio host Alex Jones has been ordered by a Connecticut jury to pay $965 million in damages to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims for suggesting that the December 2012 massacre was staged.
The six-member Connecticut Superior Court jury announced its verdict on Wednesday after three days of deliberations. The payouts were ordered to the families of eight children who were killed in the shooting, as well as to an emergency worker who claimed he was defamed. The largest damage award was to one of the parents, Robbie Parker, whom Jones was ordered to pay $60 million for defamation and $60 million for emotional distress.
Jones, founder of Infowars, accused Parker of being a crisis actor after he was shown on video briefly smiling at a press conference before speaking about the death of his 6-year-old daughter. He and other family members of the deceased children testified that they had been harassed and threatened by Infowars listeners because of the claims that Jones made. For instance, Mark and Jackie Barden said people urinated on their son’s grave and threatened to dig it up to prove that he wasn’t killed.
The shooting left 20 children and six teachers dead. The Connecticut case is one of four defamation lawsuits that were filed against Jones by Sandy Hook families. In August, a Texas jury ordered him to pay $49 million in damages to the parents of another one of the shooting victims.
Jones, who didn’t attend court for Wednesday’s verdict announcement, testified last month that he “legitimately thought” the shooting might have been staged but had later concluded that it was real. As a lawyer for the plaintiffs scolded him for failing to show respect to the victims’ families, he said, “Is this a struggle session? Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying I’m sorry.”
Jones said on his radio show Wednesday that he will appeal the verdict and that his company’s bankruptcy filing will protect Infowars while the case is still pending. He has portrayed the lawsuits against him as an attack on the constitutional right to free speech.