A judge in Texas has ordered InfoWars host Alex Jones to pay over $100,000 in court fines in a Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit against him. Jones and InfoWars are being sued by Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was one of the 26 people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. Heslin’s case is one of several taking aim at Jones and InfoWars for promoting the bogus claim that the massacre was a hoax.
Judge Scott Jenkins, of Travis County, Texas, ordered Jones and his media outlet to pay $65,825 for ignoring a court order to provide documents and witnesses in the case, and ordered them to pay an additional $34,323.80 in legal fees, The Daily Beast first reported. Jenkins also denied an InfoWars motion to dismiss the case.
Attorneys for Heslin alleged that Jones and InfoWars obstructed court proceedings.
According to the plaintiff, Jones and InfoWars agreed to provide a representative to discuss their handling of Sandy Hook, but that representative, a producer at the outlet, did not provide an explanation as to why InfoWars had called the parents “crisis actors” during deposition, The Daily Beast reports. They also alleged that Jones and InfoWars failed to preserve social media posts and internal messaging.
Judge Jenkins said the failure by Jones and InfoWars to cooperate “should be treated as contempt of court.” Jones faces similar accusations in cases being litigated in Connecticut.
Jones claimed on his show, with an audience estimated to be in the millions, that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, never actually happened, and that the grieving parents are paid “actors.” Heslin told CBS News’ Tony Dokoupil last year that the conspiracy theory spread by Jones turned a mob of people against him after he lost his son.
“I’ve had many death threats,” Heslin said. “People say, ‘You should be the ones with a bullet hole in your head.'”
Heslin is one of several Sandy Hook victims’ family members who decided to sue Jones, and other conspiracy theorists, for profiting off of spreading lies.
In October, a jury in Wisconsin awarded $450,000 to the father of another boy killed at Sandy Hook after he filed a defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist authors who claimed the massacre never happened. James Fetzer, a retired University of Minnesota Duluth professor, was ordered to pay Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the victims.
“If Mr. Jones had simply accepted responsibility for his reckless lies and years of illegal harassment, this all could have been avoided,” Mark Bankston, one of Heslin’s attorneys, wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “Instead, Mr. Jones seems to prefer exiting into the dustbin of history in the most expensive and embarrassing way possible.”
The trial for Heslin’s defamation case is expected to begin before the end of next year, according to Bankston.