Leonard Pozner, father of the Sandy Hook massacre’s youngest victim, has won a defamation lawsuit against the editors of a book that claims the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut never occurred.
Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington issued a summary judgment on Monday against James Fetzer and Mike Palecek, co-editors of Nobody Died at Sandy Hook. The 400-page book falsely claims that the shooting, which resulted in 27 deaths at the school (including 20 children), was a FEMA drill promoting gun control and that Pozner fabricated the death certificate of his six-year-old son, Noah. Fabricating death certificates is a a crime in the state of Connecticut.
The suit focused on the death certificate claim but also referenced theories Fetzer put forward on his blog, including the idea that Noah was not Pozner’s son. A redacted copy of the real death certificate was included with the lawsuit, and Pozner even requested the court appoint an independent expert to conduct a postmortem paternity test, proving his relation to Noah.
“If Mr. Fetzer wants to believe that Sandy Hook never happened and that we are all crisis actors, even that my son never existed, he has the right to be wrong,” Pozner told The Associated Press. “But he doesn’t have the right to broadcast those beliefs if they defame me or harass me. He doesn’t have the right to use my baby’s image or our name as a marketing ploy to raise donations or sell his products. He doesn’t have the right to convince others to hunt my family.”
On Tuesday, Pozner told The New York Times that the ruling is “for myself and my family [but] also a victory for the survivors and victims’ families of all mass casualty events who have been targeted by these people.”
Pozner’s attorney, Jake Zimmerman, told NPR that his client only initiated the defamation case as a “last resort.” “Mr. Pozner has sought for years to try to get these conspiracy theorists to understand that his son really was a person and that his son really did die,” he said.
The book’s publisher, Moon Rock, will cease future editions of the book and stop selling the product altogether by the end of June. A trial to determine damages will take place in October.
Dave Gahary, Moon Rock’s principle officer, noted in a statement that his interactions with Pozner convinced him of the truth. “I looked him in the eyes, listened to his testimony, had frank discussions about our respective concerns, and, in the end, shook his hand,” he said. “My 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. I extend my most heartfelt and sincere apology to the Pozner family.”
Fetzer reacted to the ruling on Twitter. “My day in Court did not turn out as expected,” he wrote. “Even though I was able to produce decisive proof the death certificate published in [the book] is a fabrication — because it lacks certification — the Judge ruled against me.”
The book case is just one of Pozner’s numerous crusades against Sandy Hook hoaxers. He is currently involved in at least nine lawsuits, and with his advocacy group, HONR Network, he has helped urge corporations like YouTube and Facebook to remove false posts about the Newtown shooting.
Meanwhile, the families of several Sandy Hook victims earned another win Tuesday in their defamation suit against Alex Jones.
Family members of four students and two educators, along with one FBI agent who responded to the shooting, sued the controversial InfoWars host in August 2018 for pushing the conspiracy theory that the 2012 massacre was staged. “Jones is the chief amplifier for a group that has worked in concert to create and propagate loathsome, false narratives about the Sandy Hook shooting and its victims, and promote their harassment and abuse,” they argued in the suit.
In a Monday court filing, the plaintiffs said they found child pornography within court-requested discovery documents sent by Jones. They said the images, which were reported to the FBI, “had apparently been sent to InfoWars email addresses”; they argued that Jones’ team didn’t appear to have “engaged in even minimal due diligence” to review the materials before production.
During an explicit, five-minute segment from InfoWars on Friday, Jones accused Christopher Mattei, an attorney representing the families, of framing him on child pornography charges, claiming the illicit material was planted on InfoWars servers through a malware attack. “We all know who did it,” Jones said during the episode, offering a $1 million bounty to whoever could find the alleged hacker. At one point, Jones held up a picture of Mattei and pounded his fist into it.
Jones’ attorney, Norman Pattis, said on InfoWars that he “spoke to federal prosecutors last week,” adding, “They report that there is no indication anyone at InfoWars knowingly possessed child pornography.”
On Tuesday, Connecticut’s Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis sanctioned Jones over the outburst, ruling that he pay the families’ attorneys fees connected to the matter referenced in the broadcast. The sanctions also block his attorneys from attempting to dismiss the case moving forward. Bellis called Jones’ behavior during the episode “indefensible,” “unconscionable” and “possibly criminal.”
While the suit against Jones focuses on his past claims that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged, the controversial host has since acknowledged that the 2012 massacre took place. In a March deposition, he blamed circulating the conspiracy on a form of mental instability. “[I] almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged,” he said, “even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged.”