Jury Tells Alex Jones to Pay Parents $4M

Jury will decide punitive damages next
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 4, 2022 4:52 PM CDT
Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $4M So Far to Sandy Hook Parents
A video showing Alex Jones plays during a hearing by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol earlier this month. The panel is looking into Jones' potential connections to the attack.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(Newser) – A Texas jury on Thursday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, marking the first time the Infowars host has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming the deadliest school shooting in US history was a hoax. The Austin jury must still decide how much the Infowars host will have to pay in punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut, the AP reports.

The parents had sought at least $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jones' attorney asked the jury to limit damages to $8—one dollar for each of the compensation charges they are considering. Jones had said any award over $2 million "would sink us." It likely won't be the last judgment against Jones over his claims that the attack was staged in the interests of increasing gun controls. A Connecticut judge has ruled against him in a similar lawsuit brought by other victims' families and an FBI agent who worked on the case. The Texas award could set a marker for other cases against Jones and underlines the financial threat he's facing. Punitive damages are to be set in a separate but shorter trial, per CNN.

The award also raises new questions about the ability of Infowars—which has been banned from YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for hate speech—to continue operating, though the company's finances remain murky. Jones conceded during the trial that the attack was real and that he was wrong to have lied about it. But Heslin and Lewis told jurors an apology wouldn't suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through. A forensic psychiatrist testified that the parents suffer from "complex post-traumatic stress disorder" inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim.

(Read more Alex Jones stories.)

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