Scarlett Lewis’ 6-year-old son Jesse was among the 20 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. For years, she and her husband have faced harassment from people believing that her child’s death was staged – but on Tuesday, she had the chance to confront the man who’s been at the helm of propagating such falsehoods.
Lewis took the witness stand in the defamation trial against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media company for his repeated claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was “staged.” Lewis and her husband, Neil Heslin, are seeking at least $150 million in damages, and have outlined how they have been harassed, threatened and even had their home shot at by people believing Jones’ lies about the mass shooting.
Sitting at the witness stand and looking Jones straight in the eyes, Lewis said, “I wanted to tell you to your face. … I am a mother, first and foremost, and I know you’re a father. And my son existed.”
Lewis accused him of repeatedly implying on his show Infowars that she and other victims and their families are actors.
On the day of the shooting, Jones published an episode of InfoWars in which he says, “Don’t ever think this couldn’t be staged.” He repeatedly suggested that the mass shooting could have been a “staged event.”
Politifact has also tracked several instances of Jones’ comments. In an Infowars show from January 13, 2015, Jones told a caller that “Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured.”
“I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors,” he said.
In another episode published on December 28, 2014, Jones said the shooting was a “giant hoax” and falsely claimed that “the whole thing was fake.”
“You’re still on your show today trying to say that, implying, that I’m an actress, that I’m deep state. You have, this week. And I don’t understand,” Lewis told jones on Tuesday. “Truth – truth is so vital to our world. Truth is what we base our reality on and we have to agree on that to have a civil society. Sandy Hook is a hard truth.”
She continued to press him on his false claims about the reality of the shooting, at one point directly asking him if she thinks she’s an actor.
“No I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones responded.
“Jesse was real. I am a real mom,” she said. “…I know you know that, and that’s the problem.”
As she addressed him, Jones shook his head, to which she responded, “I know you believe me and yet you’re going to leave this court house and you’re going to say it again on your show.”
Before the hearing on Tuesday, Jones broadcasted on his show that Lewis’ husband Neil Heslin is “slow” and being manipulated. Last week, an article posted on the Infowars website details Jones’ statement to the press following a hearing in which he said the judge of the case is only doing it “for political reasons.” He also said the case is “one of the greatest show trials ever to happen” and is “the murder of your rights to due process.”
Heslin, who also testified on Tuesday, said that Jones made their lives a “living hell” filled with abuse and trauma from his followers. He and Lewis described people shooting at their home and car, harassment and even receiving threatening emails.
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said.
“It’s fear for your life,” Lewis said. “You don’t know what they were going to do.”
Jones is facing several lawsuits from Sandy Hook families who allege that his claims led to years of abuse. He has already been found liable for defamation by courts in Texas and Connecticut for how he portrayed the mass shooting as a hoax.