AUSTIN, Texas (UKTN) — The 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 followers of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will kill them, a psychiatrist testified at Jones’ Monday. libel process.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, have sued Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems for the harassment and threats she and other parents say they endured for years, while Jones and his Infowars website claimed the 2012 attack that killed 20 first-graders and six school staff was a hoax or fake.
“The overwhelming cause of their pain is what Jones does,” said Roy Lubit, a forensic psychiatrist hired by prosecutors to assess the parents’ trauma.
The post-traumatic stress disorder that the parents suffer from is not based on a single event, but on constant trauma, and is similar to that experienced by soldiers in war zones or victims of child abuse, Lubit said.
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 had hired to protect them during the two-week trial.
Lubit said Heslin had guns fired at his house and accosted on the street. Scarlett Lewis told Lubit that she has installed sophisticated surveillance equipment in her home and sleeps with a gun, knife and pepper spray by her bedside.
Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal sought to challenge the credibility of Lubit’s testimony and whether he is biased in favor of the parents, who are demanding at least $150 million in the case. He noted that Lubit briefly ran as a Democrat for Congress in Connecticut in 2018.
“You don’t like Alex Jones, do you?” asked Reynal.
“I don’t like what he’s doing,” Lubit replied.
Mark Bankston, attorney for Heslin and Lewis, said the family has been placed in isolation under a “large and professional security team” due to an incident that has taken place since the trial began. He gave no details about what happened.
“They’re in isolation and they will be, and I can only tell you they’re terrified now,” said Bankston.
Heslin and Lewis have attended nearly the entire trial since the statements opened on July 26, arriving 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 has treated Heslin and Stewart, said Sandy Hook’s lies about a deception stole precious memories of their son.
“If Alex Jones was spreading the belief, the lies, that Neil is an actor, then that means Jesse doesn’t exist. Which is crazy,’ Crouch said. “You take away what they know about their son, what they want to keep.”
Heslin and Lewis are expected to testify on Tuesday as the last witnesses on their side.
Reynal said if he calls witnesses for the defense, it will be Jones, but he wasn’t sure yet if Jones would testify.
Monday’s testimony also included videotaped statements by an Infowars reporter who said there was no fact-checking, source investigation, verification of information through second sources, or training on journalistic standards on the website.
Jones, who attended only part of the trial, was not in court for Monday morning’s testimony.
The trial is 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 it shouldn’t disrupt the process, which is in its second week.
Free Speech Systems, which operates Infowars, recorded $14.3 million in assets. That includes nearly $1.16 million in cash and nearly $1.6 million in property and equipment, as of May 31.
It also listed $79 million in liabilities, with $54 million in debt owed to PQPR Holdings.
Sandy Hook families have sued Jones separately over the $54 million debt list, arguing that PQBR is a Nevada-registered company owned by Jones and his family through shell entities. The state court case is still pending.
Texas and Connecticut courts have already held Jones liable for libel for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors to increase gun control. In both states, judges issued non-trial judgments in absentia against Jones for failing to respond to court orders and submit documents.
For more coverage from the UKTN on school shootings: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings