WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) – Robbie Parker says he can tell when conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has something to say on his show about the Sandy Hook school shooting, that’s when another round of abuse begins.
Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter Emilie was killed, testified Thursday at Jones’ defamation trial in Connecticut about being the face and target of conspiracy theorists who believe the lie that the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators in his hoax. .
The harassment, he said, began after Jones appeared on his Infowars show a video of Parker smiling just before a news conference the day after the shooting. Jones and his guests repeatedly point to the video as proof that Parker and others are “crisis actors.”
Parker said a decade of abuse led to his family moving about 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) away to Washington state.
“It would come in these waves,” Parker said of the harassment. “It was almost like I knew when Alex Jones said something, because we would get a huge wave of things.”
Parker said it all started the day after Emilie died when reporters besieged her family and friends for information about her. He wanted to make his own statement about who his eldest daughter was with.
Just before he went to the microphones, Robbie Parker’s father encouraged him to “go get ’em” and then called him by the name of the mascot that Robbie performed in high school at athletic events. Parker joked for a moment before reading his statement, he testified.
He can’t be bothered to watch the video now, because of how it was used. He cited the testimony of Ian Hockley, the father of another slain child, Dylan Hockley. Ian Hockley spoke of an insulting flyer placed on his car windscreen showing a smiling Parker and suggesting the shooting did not happen.
“I was so embarrassed in my opinion that I told everyone this,” Parker said.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Tuesday with more evidence from the victims’ relatives. He is being held in Waterbury, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the site of the school shooting in Newtown.
A judge found last year that Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, were liable in default for defamation and for causing emotional distress to the plaintiffs – eight families who lost loved ones and an FBI agent who were among the first responders. The jury of three men and three women will decide how much in damages Jones and his company should pay them.
Parker is among a dozen family members of victims who took the stand and in emotional detail detailed death threats and rape, posts from conspiracy theorists that included photos of dead children and personal confrontations with people telling them their children or wives or mothers are not ever existed. .
Matthew, the brother of the slain teacher, Vicki Soto, testified on Thursday, the 11th day of the trial, that someone contacted him at his own high school questioning if his family was real and if his sister had really died, less than a month after the shooting.
“I don’t even remember what I said to the person, but I went down to my guidance counselor’s office and I sat in his office and I had a panic attack for hours,” he said.
Soto also said he dropped a history class at Southern Connecticut State University several years ago when the professor, on the first day of class discussing the media, asked how many students believed the Sandy shooting happened. Hook really, and some did not raise their hands. .
Relatives said that the harassment has not stopped, despite the fact that almost 10 years have passed since the shooting.
Parker confirmed that a man who recognized him walking the streets of Seattle a few years ago was saddened. The man followed him and insisted that he was lying about Emilie’s murder.
“I turned around and looked at him and I’m paraphrasing at this point, but ‘How dare you? You are talking about my daughter. She was killed. Who do you think you are? How do you sleep at night?'”
Jones’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, wants to limit any damages awarded to a jury. While cross-examining witnesses, he tried to show that Jones was not directly connected to many cases of harassment and threats, and accused the victims’ relatives of exaggerating.
Jones has acknowledged in recent years that the shooting happened, but claims the families are being used to push a gun control and anti-free speech agenda. He also believes that free speech rights allow him to question events.
He testified earlier in the trial that he is “apologetic” for promoting the conspiracy theory.
He is expected to return to the stand next week as a defense witness.
In a similar trial last month in Austin, Texas, home of Jones and Infowars, a jury ordered Jones to pay almost $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the children killed in the shooting, because of the false lies. A third such trial in Texas involving two more parents is expected to begin near the end of the year.