Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of the right-wing website InfoWars, will have to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, a jury in Austin, Texas, ordered on Thursday in the defamation trial.
Jones had repeatedly made false claims that the school shooting was a hoax and involved crisis actors. During the nine-day trial, Jones admitted that the shooting was “100% real.”
The $4.1 million award was far less than the $150 million that was sought from plaintiffs Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin. The jury must still decide how much Jones must pay in punitive damages to the couple, whose son was among the 20 school children killed in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Lewis and Heslin sued Jones for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional stress. They described the mental suffering, death threats and harassment they endured from Jones’ audience.
Free Speech Systems, the parent company of InfoWars, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a southern Texas court on Friday. A separate lawsuit was filed by the Sandy Hook families that alleged Jones uses Free Speech Systems as a shell company to hide millions of dollars in assets.
Evidence surfaced during the trial that InfoWars has at times earned more than $800,000 a day.