A Texas judge denied the motion by the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought against him and his Infowars operation by the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim, in a ruling released on Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed in state district court in Austin by Veronique De La Rosa and Leonard Pozner, parents of Noah Pozner, who was 6 years old when he was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
On his radio broadcast and in videos, Mr. Jones for years spread bogus claims that the shooting was a “false flag,” an event staged by the government as part of an effort to confiscate Americans’ firearms, and that the parents of the children killed were “crisis actors.”
After Mr. Pozner succeeded in getting an Infowars video casting doubt on the shooting removed from YouTube, Mr. Jones showed his audience Mr. Pozner’s personal information and maps to addresses associated with his family, court documents say. Mr. Jones also falsely accused Ms. De La Rosa of participating in a faked interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN after the shooting, according to court documents.
Subsequent death threats and harassment have forced the Pozner family to move seven times. They currently live in hiding.
The Pozner case is one of three defamation lawsuits, including another in Texas and one in Connecticut, filed by relatives of nine Sandy Hook victims. Lawyers for Mr. Jones on Thursday sought the dismissal on free speech grounds of a defamation case filed with the Austin court by Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, was killed at Sandy Hook.
The same judge issued a more qualified ruling against Mr. Jones in a separate defamation case brought by Marcel Fontaine, who was falsely identified on the Infowars website as the gunman in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February.
After the Infowars report, Mr. Fontaine was subjected to months of harassment, including threats at his workplace. Mr. Fontaine claimed defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The judge upheld Mr. Fontaine’s defamation claim, but denied his emotional distress one.
The judge also ruled that Mr. Fontaine could sue Mr. Jones’s business and the Infowars employee who wrongly identified him as the gunman, but that he could not sue Mr. Jones personally.
Mr. Jones was trying to have the Pozner and Fontaine cases dismissed under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which protects citizens’ right to free speech against plaintiffs who aim to silence them through costly litigation. His lawyers are seeking a dismissal of the Heslin case on the same grounds.
The Pozner family, Mr. Heslin and Mr. Fontaine are represented by Mark Bankston and William Ogden of Farrar & Ball, a law firm based in Houston.
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