Alex Jones to be paid $4.1 million for spreading Sandy Hook conspiracy theory

A jury has ordered conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones to pay $4.1 million to the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The decision followed a trial in which Jones and his attorney broke courtroom protocol and – at one point – mistakenly sent copies of Jones’ phone records to the opposing legal team. The penalty is one of the first concrete legal consequences for Jones’ false claims that the shooting was a “false flag” that led to years of harassment for the parents. But it represented only a fraction of the money Jones made in his later years.

Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was one of 20 children killed at Sandy Hook, had requested $150 million in compensation for Jones’ statements about Sandy Hook. as new York Times Note, the jury will meet again after today’s decision to consider whether to pay further punitive damages. Jones will face a total of three trials from the Sandy Hook parent; Since he lost all three of the defamation cases by default for refusing to produce documents in court, the jury would decide the financial penalty in each case.

So far, however, Jones claims he is unharmed. “We plan to be on air. We can pay for these kangaroo tests,” he said on a live video broadcast, among ads for health supplements and other products. (Jones was banned from major web platforms in 2018 and 2019, a fate he compared For being “technically… still on Earth, but you’re in jail” during the trial.) Jones claimed during the trial That any fine over $2 million would “drown” him, but court evidence showed that Jones’ site Infowars made $50 million a year even after being “deplatformed.”

Jones also apparently took steps to hide his money during the trial. His company, Free Speech Systems (FSS), declared bankruptcy with a $54 million loan to another company that appears to be controlled by Jones, and asked the FSS to “siphon off a large amount of money” to limit its losses on him. systematic withdrawal”. The bankruptcy filing halted the following two trials, previously scheduled for September.

The bizarre trial has exposed both the limits of Jones’ fabulist approach to the media and the difficulty of holding him accountable in court. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble expressed open dismay at Jones for lying on the stand, reminding him that “your belief that something is true doesn’t make it true.” He also scolded his (eleventh) lawyer, Andino Renal, for letting one of Jones’ witnesses to air with him to discuss the case. “This is not your show,” Judge Gamble told Jones at one point.

Jones also admitted during the trial that the Sandy Hook shooting was “100 percent” real, despite his previous statements. “I unintentionally participated in things that hurt the feelings of these people,” said Jones—who circulated segments suggesting, among other things, that Hesslin tried to hold her dead son in her arms. lied about. “I’m sorry for that.”

But as legal writer Ken White noted before the verdict, the ruling would not reduce audiences to Jones’ often untrue claims or his ability to make money from them, even if he omitted this particular principle. “Those who enjoyed his Sandy Hook veritableness did not enjoy it because it was factually convincing or coherent; they enjoyed the emotional state he expressed because it matched them,” White wrote. “The hard technicalities of the law are probably insufficient to change his mind.” This makes defamation claims a cost-benefit calculation for Jones. So far, today’s judgment has $4 million in costs, some very small past fines, and There is a reported $15 million in legal fees — and that includes millions of dollars in benefits each year.

Still, the trials will remain a legal headache for Jones — and they’re not over yet.

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