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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ legal team will have to hand over communication and marketing and financial documents to six families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting, a Connecticut court ruled Friday.
Family members of six victims who were killed in the shooting, along with an emergency responder who came to the scene, filed a lawsuit against Jones in May 2018, alleging that the InfoWars host “persisted in the perpetuation and propagation of this outrageous, deeply painful, and defamatory lie in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, and with no supporting evidence” since the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting in December 2012.
“Only days” after the shooting, the suit alleges, Jones began propagating harmful rhetoric against the families of the victims, calling them “crisis actors” and calling the shooting, which killed 26, a “hoax,” leading the families to be harassed by Jones’ followers.
One of the crucial allegations in the lawsuit claims that Jones made millions from spreading the conspiracy theories and used them as a “marketing scheme,” which led to the families facing “malicious and cruel abuse,” “harassment, death threats,” and “physical confrontation” while they were already mourning the death of loved ones.
“Plaintiffs suffered a horrible tragedy,” Jay M. Wolman, Jones’ attorney, wrote in a motion to dismiss the suit, ABC News reported.
“Alex Jones and InfoWars are not responsible for this tragedy. To punish them for First Amendment protected speech on this matter of public concern will not bring back the lives lost.”
The plaintiffs stated in their complaint that “the First Amendment has never protected demonstrably false, malicious statements” like Jones’.
Despite garnering millions of followers over the years, Jones took a hit over the past year, with platforms such as Apple, PayPal, Twitter, and Facebook banning his content, though Facebook and Instagram still allow him to live stream his show.
A hearing has been scheduled for next week to determine whether or not Jones will be deposed.
H/T ABC News
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque