The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was found liable on Monday for damages in lawsuits brought by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, over Jones’s claim the massacre was a hoax.
Twenty first-grade children, aged five and six, and six adults were killed in the shooting in Newtown, 코네티컷, 에 2012.
The 20-year-old gunman killed his mother before the shooting and killed himself as police arrived at the school.
The shooting was portrayed on Jones’s Infowars show as a hoax involving actors, aimed at increasing gun control. Jones has since acknowledged the shooting did occur.
Families of victims said they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’s followers because of the hoax conspiracy broadcast on Infowars. They sued Jones and his companies in courts in Connecticut and Texas, for defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
In Connecticut on Monday, Judge Barbara Bellis took the rare step of defaulting the Infowars host in the defamation lawsuits, for his and his companies’ “failure to produce critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims”.
The default means the judge found in favor of the parents and will hold a hearing on how much damages Jones should pay.
Lawyers for the parents claimed Jones and his companies, including Infowars and Free Speech Systems, violated court rules by failing to turn over documents, including internal records showing how and if Jones and Infowars profited from talking about the school shooting and other mass shootings.
“Their pattern of defying and ignoring court orders to produce responsive information is well established,” lawyers for the family wrote in a court brief in July.
Jones’s lawyers deny violating court rules on document disclosure and have asked that Bellis be removed from the case, alleging she has not been impartial.
Shortly after the judge’s decision on Monday Jones went on the air.
“These individuals, 다시, are not allowing me to have a jury trial because they know the things they said I supposedly did didn’t happen,”그는 말했다. “They know they don’t have a case for damages. And so the judge is saying you are guilty of damages, now a jury decides how guilty you are. It’s not guilty until proven guilty.”
The hearing on damages, before a jury, is expected to be held next year.
Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for relatives of eight victims who sued Jones in Connecticut, 말했다: “What’s clear from Judge Bellis’s ruling is that Alex Jones and the Jones defendants have engaged in a long, continuous course of misconduct in this case designed to prevent the plaintiffs from getting evidence about Mr Jones’ business and about his motives for publishing lies about them and their families.”
A Texas judge recently issued similar rulings against Jones in three defamation lawsuits, finding Jones liable for damages after defaulting him and his companies for not turning over documents.
Hearings on damages also were ordered.