– A federal judge in the US state of Texas ruled Wednesday that conspiracy theorist and media personality Alex Jones must pay nearly $50 million to the parents of a victim for his false claims about the school shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Rejecting Jones’ attempt to reduce the amount of damages, Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled that Jones must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages and $4.1 million in compensatory damages to Sandy Hook’s parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, who lost their children. six-year-old son in the tragedy.
“There is no doubt to me that this is a rare case, I hope it will continue to be a rare case, in which a defendant intentionally inflicted emotional harm in such an unusual manner that the victims had no other recourse,” Gamble said.
The penalty must be high enough that it is “unaffordable” to intentionally inflict this kind of emotional harm again, the judge said.
Mark Bankston, the lawyer for Lewis and Heslin, told the US media that his clients were “satisfied with the sentence” and will continue to ensure that Jones is “accountable for the most appalling acts of defamation and harassment in the history of the United States.” .
A lawyer for Jones told Reuters they would appeal Gamble’s ruling on Tuesday after the judge rejected his arguments. Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems, which operates the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, filed for bankruptcy in July.
Earlier this year, Jones was also ordered to pay about $1 billion in a separate Connecticut lawsuit to other families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.
Heslin and Lewis asked Jones for $150 million after he told an audience on his Infowars website that the US government staged the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting to take guns away from Americans and that families and the lifeguards were “crisis actors.”
Twenty children between the ages of six and seven, along with six school staff members, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, in the eastern US, in 2012. It remains one of the shootings deadliest schoolchildren in US history ■