Sandy Hook fam­i­lies win In­fowars rul­ing

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - News - BY JACEY FORTIN

The fam­i­lies of vic­tims in the 2012 shoot­ing at Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School must re­ceive ac­cess to in­ter­nal doc­u­ments at In­fowars, the in­ter­net and ra­dio show whose host, Alex Jones, has spread the false claim that the shoot­ing was an elab­o­rate hoax, a judge ruled Fri­day.

The rul­ing was a le­gal vic­tory for the fam­i­lies, who in 2018 filed a defama­tion law­suit against Jones, who traf­fics in con­spir­acy the­o­ries, and In­fowars. The suit ar­gued that ped­dling bo­gus sto­ries was es­sen­tial to the busi­ness model of In­fowars, which sells prod­ucts in­clud­ing sur­vival­ist gear, gun para­pher­na­lia and di­etary sup­ple­ments.

A gun­man killed 20 chil­dren and six adults in the Sandy Hook shoot­ing in New­town, Con­necti­cut, just over six years ago, and Jones helped to spread the idea that griev­ing rel­a­tives of those vic­tims were paid “cri­sis ac­tors.”

The plain­tiffs in the law­suit are rel­a­tives of five chil­dren and three adults who were killed, and one FBI agent who re­sponded to the shoot­ing. Their com­plaint said the fam­i­lies have faced “phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion and harass­ment, death threats, and a sus­tained bar­rage of harass­ment and ver­bal as­sault on social me­dia.”

“They have con­fronted strange in­di­vid­u­als video­tap­ing them and their chil­dren,” the suit said. “Some have moved to undis­closed lo­ca­tions to avoid this harass­ment.”

The com­plaint said In­fowars prof­its by stok­ing para­noia to amass more fol­low­ers, to whom it can sell more prod­ucts.

“From the be­gin­ning, we have al­leged that Alex Jones and his fi­nan­cial net­work traf­ficked in lies and hate in or­der to profit from the grief of Sandy Hook fam­i­lies,” Chris Mat­tei, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the fam­i­lies, said in a state­ment Fri­day. “That is what we in­tend to prove, and to­day’s rul­ing ad­vances our ef­fort.”

Judge Bar­bara Bel­lis of the Con­necti­cut Su­pe­rior Court ruled that Jones would have to sur­ren­der doc­u­ments – in­clud­ing let­ters, memos, emails and text mes­sages – that con­cern the busi­ness plan or mar­ket­ing strate­gies of In­fowars, the shoot­ing at Sandy Hook, cri­sis ac­tors or mass shoot­ings in gen­eral, the state­ment said.

The par­ents of two other Sandy Hook vic­tims are also su­ing Jones and In­fowars in Texas, his home state.

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