Right-wing talk show host Alex Jones will have to pay the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim a little more than $4 million in compensatory damages.
A jury decided Thursday, capping a stunning and dramatic case that showcased for the public the real-world harm inflicted by viral conspiracy theories.
Jones baselessly said in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, in which 26 people were killed, that the incident was staged. Facing multiple lawsuits, Jones later acknowledged the shooting occurred. He testified in court this week that he now believed it to be
The plaintiffs, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, had asked for $150 million in compensatory damages to be awarded when the trial started.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled in October that Jones was legally responsible for inflicting emotional distress on Heslin and Lewis. Gamble also ruled that Jones was liable for defaming Heslin.
The Sandy Hook family attorneys argued to the jury during their opening statements and closing arguments.
Speech is free, but lies you have to pay for.”
During the trial, Heslin and Lewis offered emotional testimony, telling the jury that the lies pushed by Jones stained the legacy of their son Jesse and tormented them for years.
The trial in Texas is one of three that is expected to play out over the next couple of months.
A different group of Sandy Hook families sued Jones in Connecticut. Those families also won a default judgment against Jones and a trial was scheduled to begin in September, but jury selection was suspended the same day it started because of a bankruptcy filing from Free Speech Systems.
One of the attorneys, Avi Moshenberg, said on Tuesday that the bankruptcy filing made by Free Speech Systems indicated that $62 million in assets had been withdrawn from the company in 2021 and 2022.
Moshenberg told CNN,
If you look at the bankruptcy filing, leading up to the declaration of bankruptcy. Just straight up draws. That’s why the company has few assets.”
BREAKING: A jury ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to Sandy Hook parents. It still must decide punitive damages. https://t.co/hCaHP052d0— The Associated Press (@AP) August 4, 2022
No words. This video clip is insane…
(Photo, screen grab; via CNN)