by Joseph X | Reuters
Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist and founder of the right-wing website Infowars, has been found liable for damages in a trio of defamation lawsuits after he falsely claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a “hoax.”
In state court in Austin, Texas, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled that Jones repeatedly failed to comply with court orders to hand over documents to the parents of the children killed in the attack.
Jones claimed the shooting, in which 20 children and six school workers were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was coined by gun-control advocates and the mainstream media.
In response, several parents sued Jones and InfoWars, as well as its parent company, for defamation in both Texas and Connecticut. Infowars is based in Texas.
In a statement attached to the trial, Jones eventually acknowledged that the massacre had occurred, although he denied wronging the children’s parents.
Last year, Jones and InfoWars were ordered by a separate Texas judge to pay more than $100,000 in court costs and legal fees in a case.
In his ruling this week, Gamble wrote that Jones had engaged in a “persistent pattern of search abuse” in many of the cases stemming from the shootings.
Gamble’s ruling means defendants will still have to pay an unspecified amount to the parents of two six-year-olds killed in the shooting. Leonard Pozner and Véronique de la Rosa, whose son Noah died, filed one suit, while the other two lawsuits were brought by Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse died.
In a statement, Norm Pattis, an attorney for Jones and InfoWars, called the decision “astonishing.”
“We are aggrieved by what we see as gross abuse of discretion by the trial court,” the statement said.
Social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have banned Jones from their platforms, citing policies against hate speech and abusive behavior.