After years of claiming the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary was a false flag that was staged with “crisis actors,” Alex Jones is finally facing the wrath of the parents of those dead children.
This Monday, two lawsuits were filed by the parents of two children who died on that horrific December day back in 2012. The suits claim that Jones’ conspiracy mongering on his mega-platform InfoWars resulted in harassment and death threats carried out by his followers.
The suites were filed in Austin, Texas, by Neil Heslin who lost his 6-year-old son, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, both of whom also lost their 6-year-old son. Both suits are seeking over $1 million in damages from Infowars (which is based in Austin) and a related company, Free Speech Systems LLC. A reporter for InfoWars named Owen Shroyer is also named in the suit.
Speaking to HuffPost, Mark Bankston, the lawyer handling the cases, said that the parents were the victims of a smear campaign orchestrated by Jones and his media outlet.
“Even after these folks had to experience this trauma, for the next five years they were tormented by Alex Jones with vicious lies about them,” Bankston said. “And these lies were meant to convince his audience that the Sandy Hook parents are frauds and have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people.”
Heslin’s suit focuses on InfoWars reporter Owen Shroyer, who claimed that Heslin lied during an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly where he said he held his dead son’s body. According to Shroyer, Heslin was lying because, according to him, victims aren’t identified by relatives in person, only through photographs. But as Heslin’s suit points out, the children’s bodies were eventually turned over to their families for funeral services.
Pozner and De La Rosa’s suit also charges Jones and InfoWars for falsely calling them liars. An April 2017 segment on InfoWars featured Jones claiming that an interview De La Rosa gave on CNN was faked.
“So here are these holier than thou people, when we question CNN, who is supposedly at the site of Sandy Hook, and they got in one shot leaves blowing, and the flowers that are around it, and you see the leaves blowing, and they go [gestures]. They glitch,” A transcript in the lawsuit quotes Jones as saying. “They’re recycling a green-screen behind them.”
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) September 24, 2014
As HuffPost points out, Jones has been recycling these conspiracy theories for years.
“Folks, we’ve got video of Anderson Cooper with clear blue-screen out there,” Jones said during a segment from 2014. “He’s not there in the town square. We got people clearly coming up and laughing and then doing the fake crying. We’ve clearly got people where it’s actors playing different parts for different people, the building bulldozed, covering up everything.”
As Jones disseminates his fraudulent theories, his followers have been known to act on them. In 2015, 30 year-old Timothy Rogalski was arrested after he repeatedly left threatening voicemails for the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary. In 2016, 57-year-old Lucy Richards of Tampa, Florida was indicted on four counts of threats she made to the parents of Sandy Hook children. Richards told Pozner in a voicemail, “You gonna die, death is coming to you real soon.” She also said, “Look behind you it’s death,” according to court documents. The family members of Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto, who lost her life trying to protect her students, were also the targets of threats over the years.
Jones isn’t only facing suits from Sandy Hook parents. His career of spreading lies and misinformation has garnered numerous lawsuits from people swept up in his outlet’s reckless reporting. In a defamation suit filed earlier this month, Marcel Fontaine said he was falsely accused of being the Parkland shooter by InfoWars. Last month, the man who recorded the deadly car attack at last year’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, sued Jones for calling him a “deep state shill” and a “CIA asset” who was in on the attack.
How these lawsuits will affect Jones and his media empire remain to be seen. But at the very least, they send a signal to purveyors of fake news that they’re not immune to accountability anymore.
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube