Alex Jones, the founder of the “Infowars” franchise and a noted conspiracy theorist on the right, was found guilty by default in a series of defamation cases filed against him after he alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders in 2012 were part of “a giant hoax” meant to advance then-President Barack Obama’s gun control agenda.
A superior court judge in Connecticut ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in all four cases after Jones failed to turn over documents the court had ordered to substantiate his claims, including his financial records, according to reports. Plaintiffs had also alleged that Jones profited off of his theory.
Following the rulings, a jury will determine the amount of damages Jones will be liable to pay, The Associated Press reported Monday.
Not long after the rulings, Jones went on his talk radio program to say he was not given a fair trial.
“These individuals, again, are not allowing me to have a jury trial because they know the things they said, I supposedly did, didn’t happen,” he said. “They know they don’t have a case for damages.
“And so the judge is saying you are guilty of damages, now a jury decides how guilty you are. It’s not guilty until proven guilty,” Jones continued.
“Judge Barbara Bellis took the rare step of issuing a default judgment in the case because she said Jones and his companies, Infowars and Free Speech Systems, had failed to turn over documents including records that might have showed how, and if, they had profited from spreading misinformation about the school shooting and other mass killings,” The AP noted further.
It’s not clear if Jones plans to appeal, but earlier, a court in Austin, Texas, where Jones is based, also ruled against him in defamation cases.
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, who reportedly had a history of mental health issues, killed his mother before going to the Sandy Hook school where he shot and killed 20 first-grade students and six teachers and school officials.
Jones, however, claimed the incident was a “hoax” perpetrated by “crisis actors.”
“Mr. Jones is very used to saying whatever he wants to say from the comfort of his own studio, but what I think this case has shown is that when he is forced to defend his conduct in a court of law and comply with court orders, that it’s a very different ballgame,” Chris Mattei, a lawyer representing the Sandy Hook families, told the Hartford Courant.
“The fact that the court was left with no choice but to default him shows just how unwilling Mr. Jones was to have his conduct exposed to the light of day in front of a jury,” he added.
The AP reported that several families of Lanza’s victims have been harassed and threatened by Jones’ supporters after he pushed his hoax conspiracy on listeners and readers of his website. That led them to sue Jones for defamation and emotional distress.
The newswire reported that the damage awards hearing will be held next year.
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