A judge in Connecticut found conspiracy theorist and right-wing broadcaster Alex Jones liable for damages in defamation lawsuits brought by the families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting massacre, which Jones claims was a hoax.
The judge ruled Monday that Jones was guilty by default after he refused to hand over evidence like financial records ordered by the courts, according to the New York Times.
On his online show and website Infowars, Jones peddled the theory that the families of the Sandy Hook victims were “crisis actors” involved in a government conspiracy to stage fake mass shootings and increase gun control.
In lawsuits filed in 2018, the families said they were subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers as a result of his outlandish claims, and that Jones made money from spreading disinformation.
Jones’ attorney did not immediately reply to a Forbes request for comment.
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Separate trials in Connecticut and Texas will determine how much money in damages Jones will be required to pay. Both trials are slated to start in 2022, according to the New York Times.
Twenty children and six adult staffers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, making it the fourth-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Jones has come under scrutiny over the years for his unsubstantiated claims, and has been banned from posting on mainstream social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration gave Jones an official warning to stop peddling unproven coronavirus cures on his broadcasts. In November, Jones used his platform to echo former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
Alex Jones Guilty by Default in All Sandy Hook Defamation Suits (New York Times)