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US Conspiracy Theorist Fined $45.2 Million For Spreading False News

Capture US Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered by a Texas jury to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages on Friday for erroneously asserting that the horrific 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a “hoax.”

The jury’s last judgement, which was $4.1 million in compensatory damages for the mental distress caused by Jones’ years-long dissemination of false information on his InfoWars web and radio talk shows, went to a couple whose child perished at Sandy Hook.

The enormous settlement obtained from Jones, who amassed a large following for his frequently ludicrous conspiracy theories, validated the lawsuits brought by the families of some of the 20 schoolchildren and six adults who were killed by a 20-year-old man in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.

The Texas plaintiffs Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse was killed, sought $150 million, a sum that was significantly less than the $49.3 million overall judgment.

Lewis did mention that Jones had been “held accountable,” though.

Lewis wrote, “I’ll be forever grateful to them because today the jury confirmed that the majority of America is ready to choose love over fear.”

The Newtown, Connecticut shooting was allegedly “manufactured” by gun control activists, according to Jones, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, for years on InfoWars.

Although he later said it was “100% real,” the Sandy Hook families contended that his denial and his capacity to shape the opinions of thousands of followers contributed to actual psychological harm.

He was also charged with making enormous sums of money via false information and dangerous lies.

The 48-year-old Jones is still likely to have legal issues because he is currently involved in another defamation lawsuit in Connecticut.

Multiple defamation lawsuits initiated by the parents of Sandy Hook victims have resulted in his liability, with the Texas case being the first to proceed to the damages phase.

He is also being investigated for his involvement in the Trump supporters’ assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Wesley Ball, the lawyer for the parents who brought the lawsuit, encouraged the jury to reject false information throughout the hearing before the verdict was announced on Friday.

“You have the ability to send a message for everyone in this country and perhaps this world to hear,” he said.

“And that is stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies,” he added.

“Stopping Alex Jones stops the root of his message and the root of his message is fear and hate.”

In relation to the first compensatory damages, $45.2 million was almost at the top of the range.

A second Jones-owned business, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week after declaring bankruptcy in April.

The Sandy Hook workforce was represented by the American Federation of Teachers, whose President Randi Weingarten applauded the ruling on Friday.

“Nothing will ever fix the pain of losing a child, or of watching that tragedy denied for political reasons,” she tweeted. “But I’m glad the parents of Sandy Hook have gotten some justice.”

AFP

 

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