A pair of Sandy Hook parents testifying against far right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones went into "isolation" following multiple incidents of harassment by Jones' fans during the ongoing trial in Austin, Texas.
The founder of conspiracy theory spewing, supplement selling media platform InfoWars is currently being sued for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress by two parents of a child killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. A court already ruled Alex Jones committed defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, so a trial is being held in Texas to determine the penalty for those deliberate acts by Jones.
Jones' InfoWars videos used to be widely distributed across social media including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, but his targeting of Sandy Hook victims and their families eventually contributed to Jones being banned from virtually every major platform.
At the height of his video distribution, Jones made millions pushing his conspiracy theories and outright lies.
Among the many baseless conspiracy theories Jones promoted on his program and website was claiming the government falsified information regarding the shooting, even suggesting no one was killed and labeling the murders a "false flag operation" designed to push gun control efforts.
On the day the shooting occurred, Jones published an episode of InfoWars across social media in which he stated, "Don't ever think this couldn't be staged." He then repeatedly suggested the mass shooting could have been a "staged event."
20 students age 6 - 7-years-old and six adult staff members were murdered at the school by a lone shooter who subsequently took his own life. He had murdered his mother before heading to the school where she once reportedly worked.
Among the 20 children who were murdered was 6-year-old Jesse Lewis. Jesse's parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis are seeking $150 million in defamation damages from Jones and InfoWars.
Jones had gone on record claiming Jesse was a "crisis actor" and the deaths of the other 19 children were a hoax.
After multiple instances of harassment by Jones' fans in Austin, Texas where the trial is taking place, both Heslin and Lewis have been forced to use around the clock security.
Heslin and Lewis’ attorney, Mark Bankston, confirmed the heightened security for the parents in a statement released to Hearst Connecticut Media.
"Unfortunately, due to some encounters this week outside of the courthouse, Neil and Scarlett have gone into isolation under the protection of security professionals."
Bankston declined to elaborate citing "security concerns", but confirmed there were "multiple incidents around the city of Austin."
This is sadly not the first time either Heslin or Lewis or other parents fell victim to attacks from believers of Jones' conspiracy theories.
Dr. Roy Lubit, a forensic therapist testified at the trial Heslin and Lewis both suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after "repeated run-ins with believers in Jones’ conspiracies."
One so-called Sandy Hook Truther bragged she was proud to harass the victims' families.
Some of these encounters even reportedly resulted in shots fired at their homes and vehicles, resulting in Lewis sleeping next to a gun and knife.
Bankston would later go on to say in his statement both Heslin and Lewis "are in fear of their lives."
Heslin and Lewis received ample support on Twitter.
Many hoped paying $150 million in defamation will be the lesser of several punishments Jones earns.
Others expressed their hopes all of Jones' supporters who have been harassing Heslin and Lewis will also face appropriate consequences.
While safety concerns did result in Heslin and Jones being temporarily missing from the courtroom where they had been fixtures since the trial began, both of them bravely showed up to testify this past Tuesday.
While Jones was noticeably missing from the courtroom during Heslin's testimony—where Jesse Lewis' father described Jones as "the person with the match that started the fire", Lewis was able to directly confront Jones when it was her turn to take the stand.
The still grieving mother said:
"I wanted to tell you to your face. I wanted you to know that I am a mother and my son existed."
"In some way, you've impacted every day of my life, negatively, almost since Jesse’s murder."
"I'm so glad this day is here, I'm relieved actually."
"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."
"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."
Jones is also facing a separate libel suit in Connecticut, this time from the families of an FBI agent and 8 Sandy Hook students, which began jury selection on Tuesday.
Jury selection was temporarily brought to a stop, however, after Jones' attorney requested the case be moved to federal bankruptcy court owing to his company, Free Speech Systems, filing for bankruptcy.