Will Alex Jones Pay $1.5 Billion to the Sandy Hook Families?
Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Following on from 10 years worth of grief, harassment and death threats, Alex Jones is ordered to pay the Sandy Hook Families over $1.5 Billion in compensation.
Who is Alex Jones?
Alex Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist, is notorious for his theories about events in the United States, such as 9/11, Pizzagate, the Oklahoma City bombings, and, most notably, the Sandy Hook shootings. Jones is the host of the Alex Jones Show and the owner of various websites, including InfoNews, PrisonPlanet, and NewsWars, all dedicated to spreading fake news and conspiracy theories.
Following on from his defamatory claims surrounding the Sandy Hook shootings, Jones is currently facing charges of up to $1.5 Billion. His claims have caused the victims' families immense suffering over the last ten years.
What Happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
On December 14th, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother in their home. He then proceeded to drive 5 miles to Sandy Hook Elementary school. Upon arrival, he immediately shot the school principal and psychologist, Lanza, then proceeded to enter the classrooms of Lauren Rousseau and Victoria Sota and killed both teachers and the 20 children under their supervision before taking his own life. Two other members of staff were shot while trying to protect students.
Within 11 minutes of Lanza arriving at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 20 children and six staff members were killed. A total of 28 people died during the massacre. It is the deadliest elementary school shooting in American History, which prompted discussions on new gun laws throughout the United States.
Former President Barack Obama, who was in office at the time of the shootings, addressed the nation and urged changes to be implemented to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.
“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
“We can’t tolerate this anymore…These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change.”
Alex Jones’ Involvement
Like many people in the United States, Alex Jones didn’t agree with Obama's plea to implement change. He believed that the Sandy Hook Shooting was a hoax and staged by the government to be able to enforce new gun laws throughout the country.
Across his multiple media outlets, Jones claimed that the victims’ families were “crisis actors” and that there were no fatalities during the shooting.
The Repercussions of Alex Jones’ Theories
The victims’ families have received ten years' worth of harassment and death threats from followers of Alex Jones. One parent claimed that his son’s grave was vandalized by urination and received threats of digging up the grave. Other parents have stated that they feel unsafe in their homes, some resulting in moving to other parts of the country to protect themselves.
Due to their emotional suffering, the families have filed a lawsuit against Jones and are seeking "the highest punitive damages" for his false statements. Multiple lawsuits were filed against Jones, ordering him to pay large sums of money to the victims' families.
One lawyer involved in the Connecticut case insisted that families should receive at least $550 million in damages, with another case in Texas ordering Jones to pay $49.3 million.
Jones is currently pursuing an appeal in response to one verdict requiring him to pay the families $959 million in compensation.
On November 10, 2022, Jones was ordered to pay an extra $473M more to Sandy Hook families.
During the entirety of the trial, the plaintiffs detailed how his false allegations have resulted in relentless harassment and added to the emotional distress they have suffered due to the deaths of their loved ones. He contends that the trial was unfair and a
"substantial miscarriage of justice."
Jones's lawyers also argued the verdict.
“The amount of the compensatory damages award exceeds any rational relationship to the evidence.”
During his testimony, Jones has since claimed that he was wrong about the shootings and acknowledged that it was 100% real; however, he has proceeded to discuss the shootings and the trial on his media outlets.
He claims that the case insulted his free speech rights and that the event was a conspiracy created by Democrats to silence him and destroy his companies.
Jones broadcasted the jury’s verdict on his InfoWars show and stated,
"They covered up what really happened, and now I’m the devil.”
InfoWars was founded by Alex Jones in 1999 through the parent company Free Speech Systems and has become his central media outlet for his controversial discussions and theories.
There have been several incidents involving hate speech that has been linked to the website. It has resulted in numerous social media platforms banning videos and posts from InfoWars from their platforms.
Jones made accusations regarding COVID-19 vaccines causing Monkeypox along with selling products claiming that they are government-approved coronavirus treatments. The Food & Drug Administration sent letters of caution to Alex Jones and InfoWars in 2020 due to their sales of unlicensed medical items.
Alex Jones has a large following and makes a great deal of money through his fake products and fake news. He even asked his followers to help raise money for his legal expenses. It is no surprise that with his large following, that the families of Sandy Hook received ten years of abuse.
However, Jones fails to acknowledge that the abuse is his fault; he claims that he doesn’t “force” people to abuse the families, so why should he be put on trial?
Will Jones Have to Pay?
Jones asserts that he has "just" $2 million to his name, even though it is believed that both he and Free Speech Systems are worth between $135 million and $270 million combined.
One of Jones’ employees testified that InfoWars made between $150 million and $1 billion in sales connected to his Sandy Hook theories. Free Speech Systems has since declared bankruptcy, with Jones claiming he is in debt by $54 million.
The Sandy Hook families have challenged his bankruptcy and debt claims by asserting that it is an attempt to avoid paying the compensation damages. Still, due to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jones filed for, the families won’t receive their money until the file is complete, which could take years.
It is unlikely that Jones will have to pay the total amount of money, and due to the nature of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Jones can continue to operate InfoWars and earn money.
Will the Gun Laws Change?
Gun laws remain the top priority for voters across the country, but as it stands, gun violence is increasing, but the law isn’t changing. In 2022, there had already been more than 545 mass shootings in the United States, with 257 of those shootings being within schools.
Obama attempted to pass a bill on Gun Laws after the Sandy Hook shootings, but it was overturned. It was announced earlier this year that a bill to impose stricter restrictions on Americans' access to firearms had been passed by Congress. Can the current government be the change that America needs?
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Rachel Brown is an English Literature and Creative Writing student at Keele University. She is also a content writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability.
Inputs and Edits by Sovena Ngeth.