Connecticut judge finds Jones liable in lawsuit over school shooting denial

Alex Jones of Infowars looks on as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather during a protest about the early results of the 2020 presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Nov 15 (Reuters) - A Connecticut judge on Monday ruled in favor of the families of victims of a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a defamation suit against Alex Jones after he defaulted by failing to provide documents, attorneys for the plaintiffs said.

Jones, founder of the right-wing website Infowars, claimed the shooting, in which 20 children and six school employees were shot dead at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, was fabricated by gun-control advocates and mainstream media. read more

In response, several parents sued Jones and Infowars, as well as its parent company, for defamation in both Austin, Texas and in Waterbury, Connecticut. Infowars is based in Texas.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that Jones had defaulted on the case by refusing to turn over documents she ordered regarding whether his companies profited from publishing the false claim, Attorney Chris Mattei said in a statement.

"Mr. Jones was given every opportunity to comply but, when he chose instead to withhold evidence for more than two years, the Court was left with no choice but to rule as it did today," said Mattei, whose firm, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, represents families of the Sandy Hook victims.

"While the families are grateful for the court's ruling, they remain focused on uncovering the truth," he said.

Norm Pattis, who represents Infowars, said: "We remain confident that, in the end, the Sandy Hook families cannot prove either liability or damages. We think their lawyers know this; hence, the desperate effort to obtain a default.”

He added, "Thank God for appellate courts."

The ruling follows a trio of losses for Jones in Texas on Oct. 1 when a judge presiding over other defamation suits also found that he had failed to comply with court orders to hand over documents to the parents of children killed in the attack. read more

In a deposition linked to one of the Texas suits, Jones eventually acknowledged the massacre had occurred, though he denied wronging the children's parents.

Damages in the four cases have yet to be determined.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool and David Gregorio

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