AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim are living with a complex form of post-traumatic stress disorder and a constant fear that supporters of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will kill them , a psychiatrist told Jones on Monday ‘ defamation lawsuit.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, sued Jones and his media company Free speech systems about the harassment and threats they and other parents say they endured for years while Jones and his Infowars website claimed that the 2012 attack that killed 20 first-graders and six staff at the school was a hoax or a fake.
“The overwhelming cause of their pain is what Jones does,” said Roy Lubit, a forensic psychiatrist hired by the plaintiffs to examine the trauma suffered by the parents.
The post-traumatic stress disorder that parents suffer from is not based on a single event, but on constant trauma, and is similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or child victims of abuse, said Lube.
Heslin and Scarlett Lewis are consumed not only by the memory of their son’s horrific death, but also by the denials and attacks on them and their son’s legacy that they have endured for years. He noted the security the parents hired to protect them during the two-week trial.
Lubit said Heslin was shot at in his home and accosted on the street. Scarlett Lewis told Lubit she had sophisticated surveillance equipment installed in her home and slept with a gun, knife and pepper spray by her bedside.
Jones’ attorney, Andino Reynal, tried to attack the credibility of Lubit’s testimony and whether it is biased in favor of the parents, who are asking for at least $150 million in the case. He noted that Lubit briefly ran for Congress from Connecticut as a Democrat in 2018.
“You don’t like Alex Jones, do you?” Reynal asked.
“I don’t like what he’s doing,” Lubit replied.
Mark Bankston, attorney for Heslin and Lewis, said the family had self-isolated under a “large professional security team” due to an incident that had occurred since the trial began. He did not provide details of what happened.
“They’re isolated and they’re going to stay that way, and all I can tell you is they’re terrified right now,” Bankston said.
Heslin and Lewis have attended nearly the entire trial since opening statements on July 26 and arrived at the courthouse for the first time with a small security detail. They left the courtroom together on Monday morning.
Michael Crouch, a Connecticut psychologist who treated Heslin and Stewart, said lies about a Sandy Hook prank stole precious memories of their son.
“If Alex Jones, if he was spreading the belief, the lies, that Neil is an actor, that means Jesse doesn’t exist. Which is crazy,” Crouch said. their son, what they want to cling to.”
Heslin and Lewis are scheduled to testify on Tuesday as the final witnesses on their side.
Reynal said Jones will testify in his own defense on Tuesday.
Monday’s testimony also included videotaped depositions from an Infowars reporter who said the website lacked fact-checking, source-checking, information-checking by secondary or training sources on journalistic standards.
Jones, who only attended part of the trial, was not in the courtroom for Monday morning’s testimony.
The trial is taking place in Texas because Jones lives in Austin and his media company, Free Speech Systems, is based there. The company has filed for federal bankruptcy protection, though defense attorneys say that shouldn’t disrupt the trial, which is in its second week.
Free Speech Systems, which operates Infowars, listed $14.3 million in assets. This includes nearly $1.16 million in cash and nearly $1.6 million in property, plant and equipment, as of May 31.
It also listed $79 million in liabilities, with $54 million in debt owed to PQPR Holdings.
The Sandy Hook families sued Jones separately for listing the $54 million debt, arguing that PQBR is a Nevada registered company owned by Jones and his family through fictitious entities. This lawsuit in state court is still pending.
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for its depiction of the Sandy Hook Massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges entered default judgments against Jones without a trial because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.
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