Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was found responsible for defamation and false claims on Thursday related to two separate lawsuits filed by families of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
On his website Infowars, Alex Jones spent most of his coverage of the incident calling the Connecticut elementary school shooting a “giant hoax” and the family’s impacted “crisis actors.”
After not working with the courts to provide documents supporting his claims, Travis County, Tex. District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble passed a default judgement on the case. The ruling, essentially means that since Jones did not comply, he loses by default and must pay the plaintiffs damages to be decided on a later date.
According to The Washington Post, Alex Jones was asked to hand over documents that supported his false claims, but never did. Prior to the lawsuit, he stated erroneously that the Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children, was a “false flag” operation meant to distract America and push gun control legislation.
Judge Gamble called Alex Jones’ behavior “flagrant bad faith” and said that he had “callous disregard” for “intentionally disobeyed” the court’s orders. Nine different Sandy Hook families have sued Alex Jones over the years, who has had to pay over $100,000 in damages since 2018.
In unsealed documents, Judge Gamble said that his parent company, Free Speech Systems, had gone about “an escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions,” which have “all been ineffective at deterring the abuse.”
His claims of “crisis actors” and “false flags” surrounding the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting were extremely popularized by the media, and have been repeated by his supporters on the right recently regarding the case of missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito.
Mark Bankston, attorney for the families, told CNN in a written statement that the two families felt like they got, “the closure they deserve.”
“Mr. Jones was given ample opportunity to take these lawsuits seriously and obey the rule of law,” the family lawyer said. “He chose not to do so, and now he will face the consequences for that decision.”
On the other end, an attorney for Infowars called the default decision “stunning.” Brad Reeves, Alex Jones’ attorney, had yet to comment on the ruling.
“It takes no account of the tens of thousands of documents produced by the defendants, the hours spent sitting for depositions and the various sworn statements filed in these cases,” said Infowars attorney Norm Pattis. “We are distressed by what we regard as a blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court. We are determined to see that these cases are heard on the merits.”
The statement was reportedly signed off by Alex Jones.
In 2017, during a lengthy custody battle with his ex-wife, Kelly Jones, lawyers alleged that Alex Jones was a “performance artist” who spreads misinformation on his platform Infowars. He has said in the past that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that certain chemicals in water can “turn the frogs gay,” and that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex trafficking ring underneath a pizza joint.
According to The Washington Post, Alex Jones and other prominent right-wing figures are currently being investigated by the FBI for their potential roles in promoting the Jan. 6 capital insurrection. Jones, according to the investigation, had close ties with the Proud Boys, and promoted taking matters into their own hands on Infowars.
In a 2019 deposition, Alex Jones attempted to defend himself by saying that, “I talk four hours a day, and I can’t remember what I talked about sometimes a week ago.”
A jury will soon convene, according to CNN, to determine how much Alex Jones will have to pay the families in damages.