Infowars host Alex Jones was ordered by a Texas jury on Friday to pay compensation totaling $45 million to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. The child was six years old. This is in addition to the $4 million he was ordered to pay the couple, according to the judge’s verdict Thursday.
On Jones’ renowned right-wing podcast Infowars, he repeatedly called the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax, leading Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis to demand Jones pay them a total of $150 million in damages. The parents’ attorneys alleged that Jones made money from his allegations that Sandy Hook and numerous other tragedies were fabricated conspiracies exploited by the United States government to crack down on gun laws and control the public.
The allegations against Alex Jones
Information that the Infowars host had made huge bucks selling articles about his shows was uncovered in hacked messages exchanged between Alex Jones and his lawyers, the Independent reported. Attorneys for Heslin and Lewis allege that this was a direct result of the attention he received for the conspiracy theories he shared regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Wesley Todd Ball, Heslin and Lewis’ attorney, said in an interview with CNN that the trial should serve as an example for those who benefit from the spread of false news.
Jones claimed that the punishment was overly severe and that it would cause Infowars to collapse if carried out. In response, Ball stated that that was the plan, adding that it would ensure he could no longer maintain a platform and would prevent him from speaking publicly.
However, in light of published news revealing how much money Jones actually made from the program, Ball acknowledged that even $45 million in penalties was not enough to weaken the Infowars host’s influence.
F. Andino Reynal, the attorney representing Jones, said in court that the punishment would not serve as a deterrent to future offenses. Contrary to Ball’s claims, Reynal claimed that Jones played a significant role in challenging the deceptive strategies allegedly employed by the United States government.
Jones testified in court Wednesday that the massacre did not take place and that it was not a fake. However, he has also claimed in court that Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis are being used as tools by the government to discredit him.