Writing BBC News World4 August 2022Updated 2 hoursImage source, ReutersSpreading a conspiracy theory for years is going to cost Alex Jones, one of the most prominent voices of harsh conservatism in the United States, a millionaire sum. A jury found Jones guilty of defaming to the parents of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 20 children and 6 adults. Among the minors killed was 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, whose parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, filed the lawsuit against Jones in a Texas court. The presenter must pay $4.1 million for defamation, plus another $45.2 million in punitive damages, which can be awarded to punish a defendant for reckless, negligent or scandalous behavior, or to deter future such acts. Jones has argued for years that the shooting was a government-organized hoax to strip Americans of the right to own guns. He also falsely claimed that the victims’ parents were actually actors. Lews and Heslin said they had suffered harassment and emotional distress because of the Jones conspiracy theory. They were seeking compensation of $150 million. A forensic psychiatrist testified that both suffered from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” similar to that suffered by servicemen in action or victims of child abuse. “We’re asking you to send a very, very simple message and that is: stop Alex Jones,” an attorney for the parents told the jury Friday. “Stop monetizing misinformation and lies. Please.” This is the first of three lawsuits against Jones brought by relatives of Sandy Hook victims. The broadcaster had previously lost a series of defamation cases brought by parents of victims. by not having documents or testimonies in their favor. But the one concluded this Friday is the first in which the damages were determined by a jury. His defense Despite retracting his claims about the Sandy Hook shooting, Jones has continued to use his channel, Infowars, to attack the jury and the judge. Maya Guerra Gamble in this case. During the emotionally charged trial, Jones described the case as an attack on her free speech rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. “I admitted that I was wrong, I admitted that I made a mistake, I admitted that I I followed misinformation, but it was not on purpose. I apologized to the families. And the jury understood that,” he said in a video on Thursday. “I questioned the case because I saw abnormalities and others saw abnormalities,” he added, explaining that, for him , it was a “propaganda” case. Image source Reuters Photo caption The case against Jones was brought by Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis. However, he admitted the murders in sand and Hook were “100% real” and accused the media of not allowing him to retract his false claims. He has also claimed that he is bankrupt, despite evidence that his companies made around $800,000 a day selling dietary supplements, gun paraphernalia and survival kits. “Free speech is free, but lies must be paid for,” the families’ attorneys responded in their opening statements. In his testimony, Lewis addressed Jones directly and said: ” Jesse was real… I’m a real mom.” She went on to say that it was “unbelievable” to have to go through a process like this. “We have to beg you, not just beg you, punish you, to stop lying,” she continued. “It’s surreal what’s going on here.” Image source Reuters Image caption Jesse Lewis, 6, was one of the Sandy Hook victims Heslin said Jones’ lies “tarnished honor and legacy” of his son and assured that it has been almost 10 years of “hell” since the shooting. According to the parents’ lawyers, they hired private security for the trial for fear that Jones’s followers might try to harm them. Before the decision , attorneys for Lewis and Heslin revealed that Jones’s attorney had inadvertently sent them the 2-year history of text messages from the anchor’s phone. The messages could be of interest to the congressional panel investigating the riots. last year at the US Capitol. The committee believes that Jones helped organize a rally that took place just before the riots. Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems LLC, filed for bankruptcy protection last week. The outlet has been banned by YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for spreading hate speech, but continues to operate. Other Jones-driven conspiracies say the US government is creating floods and tornadoes as “weather weapons” and that chemicals in drinking water are making frogs gay. He remembers that you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.
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