Sandy Hook families v Alex Jones: Defamation case explained
The parents of a 2012 mass shooting victim can sue Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defamation, a Texas judge has ruled.
Mr Jones sought to dismiss the suit brought by the parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre.
Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa allege they were harassed and forced to move after Mr Jones decried the attack that left 26 dead as a left-wing hoax.
The case is one of five defamation lawsuits he is facing.
Mr Jones argued that he was protected from the lawsuit by his first amendment free speech rights under the US constitution. He also sought more than $100,000 (£77,000) in court costs from the couple.
But Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County, Texas rejected Mr Jones’ argument and his motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to court papers.
Who is Alex Jones?
Alex Jones is the founder and host of Infowars – a far-right radio and online show that is best known as a platform for Mr Jones’ conspiracy theories.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 young children and six adults dead in 2012, he repeatedly described the incident as a hoax on his show.
He alleged the massacre was “completely fake”, using actors and staged by the government in order to promote its agenda for nationwide gun control.
Mr Jones has faced criticism before for similar claims, including his claim that the 9/11 attacks were also staged by the government.
Infowars touts millions of listeners and viewers. Mr Jones has also interviewed President Donald Trump, who has repeated Infowars claims on his Twitter feed and in speeches.
How did the defamation case come about?
More than five years after Sandy Hook, the parents of Noah Pozner – who was six years old when he was shot and killed – are suing Mr Jones for defamation.
Mr Pozner and Ms De La Rosa are suing Mr Jones in Travis County, where Mr Jones is based.
Last April, Mr Jones posted a video titled “Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed”, which implied Ms De La Rosa was an actor.
This video is at the centre of the parents’ case, as defamation claims in certain states have a one-year statute of limitations.
The family’s legal action also followed an incident in which a Florida woman who believed Mr Jones’ claims began making death threats against Mr Pozner.
Mark Bankston, the lawyer for the Pozner family, says his clients are suing Mr Jones because they believe he has no intention of leaving them alone.
The judge has yet to rule on a second defamation case against Mr Jones, brought by Neil Heslin, the father of slain Sandy Hook student Jesse Lewis.
Mr Heslin’s complaint alleges that Mr Jones accused him of lying about holding his son’s body with a bullet hole in his head.