Sandy Hook father awarded $450,000 from defamation suit

SANDY HOOK, CT - MARCH 14: A sign stands near the site of the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting on the day of the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018 in Sandy Hook Connecticut. Several hundred students at the school, near the site of the Sandy Hook school massacre of December 14, 2012, staged a protest one month after 17 people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Media and visitors were not allowed on the Newtown High campus for the event. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MADISON, Wis. — A jury in Wisconsin has awarded $450,000 to the father of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting after he filed a defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist writers who claimed the massacre never happened.

A Dane County jury on Tuesday decided the amount James Fetzer must pay Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.

Fetzer, a retired University of Minnesota Duluth professor now living in Wisconsin, and Mike Palacek co-wrote a book, “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” in which they claimed the Sandy Hook shooting never took place but was instead an event staged by the federal government as part of an Obama administration effort to enact tighter gun restrictions. A judge earlier ruled Pozner was defamed by statements in the book that claimed he fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate.

Fetzer called the damages amount “absurd” and said he would appeal.

Palacek reached a settlement with Pozner last month, terms of which were not disclosed.

Pozner has been pushing back for years against hoaxers who have harassed him, subjected him to death threats and claimed that he was an actor and his son never existed. He has spent years getting Facebook and others to remove conspiracy videos and set up a website to debunk conspiracy theories.

Others who lost relatives in the Newtown shooting have joined the fight lately after quietly enduring harassment and ridiculous assertions for years. Their efforts have turned the tables on the hoaxers. A defamation case by Sandy Hook parents against Alex Jones, host of the conspiracy-driven “Infowars” website, is pending.

Pozner thanked the jury “for recognizing the pain and terror that Mr. Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting,” and emphasized that his case was not about First Amendment protections, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“Mr. Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened,” he said. “He has the right to express his ignorance. This award, however, further illustrates the difference between the right of people like Mr. Fetzer to be wrong and the right of victims like myself and my child to be free from defamation, free from harassment and free from the intentional infliction of terror.”

Pozner testified during the trial that he’s been repeatedly harassed by people who don’t believe the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, including through messages posted to photos of his son on a memorial website. He said Fetzer’s writing caused him to worry about his safety and his family’s safety and how his surviving children could be treated. One of his two daughters is Noah’s twin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.