WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A representative for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars empire admitted on the witness stand Wednesday that the show and its website spread lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Brittany Paz was accused of “false statements” in a civil trial involving Jones’ allegation that the country’s deadliest school shooting was staged as a pretext for tighter gun control. I don’t think I would disagree,” he testified.
Paz, an attorney hired by Jones’ defense team to testify about the company’s activities, believes Jones did not personally investigate the massacre. Multiple videos on Infowars featured what Paz called “crisis actor theory.”
“You mean ‘lie’?” said plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Mattei in response to objections from Jones’ attorneys.
“They’re not actors. You’re right,” Paz eventually replied.
Shortly after the killing, Jones popularized the idea that the father of the murdered child was reading scripts devised by the government or the media to shape public opinion, a claim Jones said “needs to be investigated. ” he said.
The father of another young victim later told Infowars in an email that his family was harassed and distraught over the hoax and lies about the supposed criminal. I replied that I was keeping my distance. However, Paz testified that another Infowars employee continued to develop the theory.
The jury’s only task is to determine how much money Jones has to pay the families of the eight victims and the FBI agents. She made that decision after she failed to file papers as ordered during the lawsuit.
Jones is expected to eventually testify, but he has so far not attended the trial. He filed the lawsuit as part of a dark campaign against him, his audience and the First Amendment rights of Americans to free speech.
“I knew they were using the Sandy Hook to get the second, but now they’re using it to kill the first,” he said. The trial comes about a month after a Texas jury ordered him to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of the children killed in Sandy Hook.
Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, urged a Connecticut jury to minimize damages, arguing that the family made exaggerated damage claims.
The family said the emotional and psychological damage was severe and lasting. Relatives say they were subjected to social media harassment, death threats, video recordings from strangers, and surreal pain of being told to fake their loss.
Her sister, teacher Vicky Soto, was among the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Twenty victims were children.
Soto Parisi explained in social media comments that she was seen claiming that she was a crisis manager and that her sister had not been shot and did not exist and that no massacre had taken place. , testified about receiving ominous social media messages containing gun emojis and finding a note on the door from a stranger saying he needed to go to church.
And one time, she said, a conspiracy theorist came up and yelled, “It never happened!” At a fundraiser the family holds in honor of Vicky Soto.
The bereaved family alleges that Jones sold lies to increase his audience and customers for Infowars merchandise. There has been a surge in the number of people browsing websites and social media accounts.
By 2016, Jones’ shows were airing on 150 affiliated radio stations, and Infowars’ website received 40 million monthly page views, according to statistics the company used to pitch advertisers. Paz believes Jones made hundreds of millions of dollars in the decade since Sandy Hook’s murder.
Jones has now admitted that the shooting was real. At the Texas trial, he testified that he realized his remarks were irresponsible and apologized.
However, he maintains that his comments are free speech and protected.
“I don’t apologize for asking about it,” he said on his show Wednesday.
Peltz reported from New York.