Alex Jones was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in afor promoting the lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax. A Connecticut jury found Jones liable for $965 million, with sums as high as $120 million per person.
Jones and his company were found liable for damages last year. The six-judge jury was tasked with determining how much the Infowars host should pay 15 plaintiffs — including the families and an FBI agent — for calling the 2012 massacre a hoax.
The jury was instructed to arrive at two compensatory damages amounts for each plaintiff: one amount for defamation damages and another for emotional distress damages.
Some plaintiffs hugged in the courtroom after the verdict was read. Jones wasn’t there, but live video from the court was played in split-screen on his Infowars show.
“Hey guys, don’t buy big houses,” he said.
Jones denounced the trial as a “kangaroo court”, described it as an attack on free speech rights and called the judge a “tyrant”. His lawyer told jurors that the damages awarded should be minimal.
It’s unclear how much of the judgment Jones can afford to pay. During a recent trial in Texas, he testified that he could not afford a judgment of more than $2 million. Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in July. But an economist testified at the Texas trial that Jones and his company were worth as much as $270 million.
The trial included tearful testimony from parents and siblings of the victims, who described how they had been threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the lies told on Jones’ show.
Strangers showed up at their homes to record them. People were throwing insulting comments on social media. Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, testified that people sent rape threats to her home. Mark Barden told how conspiracy theorists urinated on his 7-year-old son Daniel’s grave and threatened to dig it up the ark.
After the verdict, several family members spoke at an emotional news conference.
“All I can really say is that I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve, just to tell the truth. And it shouldn’t be this hard and it shouldn’t be this scary,” said Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emily was killed in the shooting. “Every day in this courtroom we stood up and told the truth.”
Jones has also been found liable by default in two similar fraudulent misrepresentation lawsuits in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where a jury in one trial ordered Jones in August to payfor compensation to the parents of one of the murdered children. A third trial in Texas is expected to begin near the end of the year.
When Jones stood before a Texas grand jury and testified under oath, he toned down his rhetoric. He said he realizes the fraudulent lies are irresponsible and that the school shooting is “100 percent real.”