A jury in Waterbury reached a verdict in the Alex Jones defamation case, saying Jones and his company Free Speech Systems need to pay $965 million for spreading a conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting never happened.
Family of the victims in the 2012 shooting are now reacting to the verdict. They say they have been waiting throughout the nearly four-week trial, and ultimately nearly a decade, for this outcome.
“I let my voice be taken away from me, and my power be taken away from me. At the expense of my daughter and at the expense of my family,” Robbie Parker said.
Parker held back tears as he spoke outside of Waterbury Superior Court. During Jones’ defamation trial, Parker testified he became the face and target for conspiracy theorists after his 6-year-old daughter Emilie was killed in the tragedy.
“It shouldn’t be this hard, and it shouldn’t be this scary,” Parker said.
Robbie Parker, who lost his daughter, Emilie, in the Sandy Hook massacre, spoke outside Waterbury Superior Court after a jury awarded him and 14 other plaintiffs $965 million for the harm caused them by Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook hoax claims.
Parker, who was accused of being a crisis actor and moved his family to Washington state to avoid threats, was awarded $120 million, $60 million of that for emotional damages.
“I shouldn’t have to worry about what my daughters are going to go through when I tell them that it’s best that they just tell the truth. Because that’s all we did. Every day in that courtroom, we got up on that stand and we told the truth,” Parker said.
The daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal killed that awful day, hopes this verdict may offer some protection for other families of mass shooting victims.
“I know that this is not the end of Alex Jones in my life. I know that his hate, lies and conspiracy theories will follow both me and my family through the rest of our days,” Erica Lafferty said. “But I am hopeful that it may save other families from high profile tragedies from the cycle of abuse and re-traumatization that we have all been put through.”
They are part of a club no one wants to join, and spent the past several weeks giving emotional testimony about the impact a conspiracy spun by Alex Jones had on their lives.
“This jury, who I have so much gratitude for, for listening so attentively, for not just listening, for hearing us,” shooting victim relative Nicole Hockley said.
The plaintiffs described how over the past decade, they faced threats and were told the deaths of their loved ones were not real.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs called the jury’s verdict “historic.”
“The spread of this lie, which reached upwards of a billion people we know, that was his doing, that’s what he wanted,” Chris Mattei, plaintiffs’ attorney, said. “The jury’s verdict should reflect that type of damage. And that’s what we think happened.”
Now the victims’ families are hoping this case sets a precedent in the future.
“The internet is not the wild, wild west, and that your actions have consequences,” William Sherlach, relative of a shooting victim said. “Going forward, because unfortunately, there will be other horrific events like this, people like Alex Jones will have to rethink what they say.”
Jones wasn’t at court, but he reacted on his Infowars show. As courtroom video showed the plaintiffs’ names being read along with the jury awards to each, Jones said that he himself had never mentioned their names.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys also reiterated Wednesday that they will be enforcing the verdict, saying reps will be going to Texas to get a better understanding of Jones’ assets, track and transfers, and make sure that these families get paid out.
They will also be presenting punitive damages for the judge to consider in the next month. Connecticut does have a cap on punitive damages, but the judge can opt to add more to that cap.