2 legal wins for Sandy Hook parents in battles against conspiracy theorists

Parents who lost children in the 2012 shooting have been fighting false claims.

June 19, 2019, 1:32 PM

The deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 rocked the country and devastated parents both in the small Connecticut community where it happened and across the country.

The parents of the victims have repeatedly tried to fight back against those who have made various unfounded claims about the tragedy, and one parent got a win in court this week.

Larry Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah died in the shooting that killed 26, filed a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book titled, "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." A court ruled in his favor Monday.

The Associated Press reported that a Wisconsin judge issued a summary judgement against the book's authors James Fetzer and Mike Palacek, though any settlement between the book's publisher and Pozner will be separate and a trial is set for October to decide damages.

Pozner released a statement to ABC News' "Start Here" podcast, calling the decision "a victory for truth and decency."

"Today marks an important turning point for victims of hoaxers and online harassers. Unimpeded conspiracy theories erase history. They dehumanize victims. People like Fetzer who hide behind their computer screen and terrorize people grappling with the most unimagined grief were put on notice today," Pozner said.

Dave Gahary, the principal officer of the book's publisher Moon Rock Books, said that his "face-to-face interactions with Mr. Pozner have led me to believe that Mr. Pozner is telling the truth about the death of his son," the AP reported.

Anna Merlan, a journalist and the author of "Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power," told "Start Here" that the fight against conspiracy theorists started on a smaller level.

"Lenny Posner will tell you that he started out simply asking people to try to consider how hurtful it was for him and other parents to hear this," Merlan said, adding that the fight also included "trying to get them to stop using his family photos."

"But it's also important to recognize that one of the things they're doing here is not just trying to get these people to stop spreading lies but to get people to stop actively harassing them. It's not just that these people have websites spreading lies about Sandy Hook. They show up at Sandy Hook Elementary School and in the town of Newtown. Over and over they really have devoted themselves to making people miserable," Merlan said of conspiracy theorists and so-called "truthers."

PHOTO: In this Sept. 5, 2018, file photo, Alex Jones speaks to reporters in Washington, D.C.
In this Sept. 5, 2018, file photo, Alex Jones speaks to reporters in Washington, D.C.
Jose Luis Magana/AP, FILE

Another man, whose statements about the shooting have made him a thorn in the side of some Sandy Hook parents, was also reprimanded in court this week. Controversial InfoWars radio host Alex Jones was ordered by a Connecticut judge to pay some of the legal fees of a Sandy Hook relative whose lawyer he verbally attacked on his web show, the AP reported.

A judge ruled that Jones is now prohibited from filing motions to dismiss the defamation lawsuits filed against him, the AP said.

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