Alex Jones was ordered to pay additional $45 million in punitive damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim for falsely claiming the massacre was fabricated to call for tighter gun control
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay another $45.2m (£37.4m) to the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim, a jury has ruled.
Another trial to grip social media users around the world, this week, has been that of Alex Jones – the man who hatefully blamed the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting on the LGBTQ+ community. 49, mostly queer and Latino, people were killed making it the deadliest mass shooting in American history at the time.
Just days after the massacre, Jones accused the LGBTQ+ community of exaggerating violence “so you can sexualise my children and indoctrinate them into your cult”.
Jones, who owns far-right conspiracy theory site Infowars, finally found himself in court this week for shamelessly broadcasting and spreading misinformation about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
Jones claimed the devastating school massacre was staged by the government as a ploy to call for tighter gun restrictions in the US and strip American’s of their arms, further then accusing those involved, including dead children and grieving parents, of being “crisis actors”.
Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook in 2012 in what remains the deadliest school shooting in US history. After the school rampage, gunman Adam Lanza then turned his weapon and killed himself.
The two-week trial, which began on July 25, was to decide how much the far-right media personality would pay in damages.
Mr Jones eventually, after years of repeatedly spinning the vile myth that it had been a fabricated massacre, admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real”.
Earlier this week this week Jones, estimated to be worth around $270 million, lost the first of several trials against him for spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation. On Thursday (August 4), he was ordered to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages.
A day later (August 5), Jones was then ordered to pay $45.2m in punitive (being those over and above the basic compensation amount, designed to punish the defendant) damages by the Texas jury, though this is lower than the $75m (£62m) the family had requested before the ruling.
LAWYER: “You’ve been broadcasting a picture of our judge on fire, correct?”
ALEX JONES: “No.”
*Shows pic of him broadcasting judge on fire* 🤦🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/tIwKuwT4cN
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) August 4, 2022
Among the many viral moments from the trial was when Jones’ lawyer accidentally sent two years of potentially damning text messages from his clients phone to Mark Bankston, a lawyer representing the parents.
According to Mr Bankston, Jones had sent texts about Sandy Hook, contradicting his under oath trial testimony that he hadn’t mentioned the shooting in any private communications. Jones had claimed that was the reason he hadn’t provided his phone records to the court.
Jones’ claims prompted Mr Bankston to ask him: “Do you know what perjury is?”
The January 6 congressional committee, the body investigating the Capitol riot, has since requested access to Jones’ private text messages, which Mr Bankston said he intended to provide to the committee unless the judge intervenes.
The committee had earlier requested records and a deposition from Jones about his contributions to the riot, widely considered one of the darkest days in US political history which saw MAGA Trump supporters storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Attorney Mark Bankston told #AlexJones that his attorney messed up and sent him Jones’ entire cell phone history. “Did you know that your lawyers messed up and sent me your entire cell phone texting history 12 days ago?” Bankston asked. “You know what perjury is right?” pic.twitter.com/IfIiP5UTIg
— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) August 3, 2022
Bankston had accused Jones in court of approaching the trial in bad faith, citing broadcasts where he said the trial was rigged against him. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, in a clip that quickly went viral, reprimanded Jones on Tuesday for lying under oath after he lied under oath, telling the court he was bankrupt and had complied with discovery in the case.
Judge to Alex Jones “You are already under oath to tell the truth and you have violated that oath twice today” pic.twitter.com/fG9FZccxO4
— The Tony Michaels Podcast 🎙 (@TonyMichaelsPod) August 2, 2022
“Alex Jones was held accountable,” said a tweet from plaintiff Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse, 6, was killed in the school massacre. “Today the jury proved that most of America is ready to choose love over fear and I’ll be forever grateful to them. Ironically, Alex Jones ended up giving me a larger platform to share Jesse’s story and message.”
Lewis testified how the conspiracy theorist’s false claims that the massacre was a hoax made their lives a “living hell” of death threats, online abuse and other trauma from Jones and his followers.
Jones now faces two additional upcoming defamation trials involving Sandy Hook families, expected to lead to additional damages awarded by juries.
Attorney who just won his lawsuit vs Alex Jones:
“There is going to be a large set of plaintiffs dividing up the corpse of Infowars. … That could get very, very dangerous for Mr. Jones, because there is going to be a new level of financial scrutiny.” pic.twitter.com/6EzLQXcLwS
— Bill Grueskin (@BGrueskin) August 6, 2022