During a defamation lawsuit against InfoWars host Alex Jones, one Sandy Hook mom spoke to the conspiracy theorist directly about the harm he has caused with his lies and claims that the 2012 shooting was a hoax.
Scarlett Lewis lost her 6-year-old son, Jesse, after a gunman opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, killing 26 people. Twenty of the victims were 6- and 7-year-old first graders.
I wanted to tell you, to your face, because I wanted you to know that I am a mother, first and foremost. I know that you’re a father. And my son existed.
After the shooting, Jones began peddling lies and conspiracy theories about the events of that day on his radio show, claiming the deadliest school shooting in the country's history was a "false flag operation," a "huge hoax" and a result of the "deep state."
Jones has already been found liable for defamation for lying about Sandy Hook. This trial is to determine how much he should pay.
On Tuesday at the trial, Lewis spoke to the incendiary host directly, looking him in the face as he sat next to his defense attorney and frequently squirmed in his chair.
“I wanted to tell you, to your face, because I wanted you to know that I am a mother, first and foremost. I know that you’re a father,” Lewis told Jones. “And my son existed. You’re still on your show, today, trying to say that I am — implying — that I’m an actress. That I’m ‘Deep State.’ You have. This week. And I don’t understand.”
In 2018, Jones was sued by the families of Sandy Hook for spreading lies and conspiracy theories about the shooting, and in 2021 Jones and his company were found liable of all damages after failing to produce evidence to back up his claims.
Jones has acknowledged that the shooting did actually happen. But in a deposition in April, Jones said he does not accept responsibility for the pain Sandy Hook families endured because of his lies, because, he said in transcripts made public, he "wasn’t trying to cause pain and suffering." Instead, he argued that the families are "being used and their children who can’t be brought back (are) being used to destroy the First Amendment," according to publicly released court documents.
Jones is now on trial in Austin, Texas to determine how much he has to pay Lewis and Neil Heslin, Jesse's father, for the harm he has caused the parents as a result of his fictitious claims. There are other defamation cases ongoing as well.
Without wavering as she testified Tuesday, Lewis told Jones that the truth is "vital to our world" and "what we base our reality on."
"We have to agree on that to have a civil society," she continued. "Sandy Hook is a hard truth. A hard truth. Nobody would want to ever believe that (20) kids could be murdered. Nobody would ever want to believe that. I understand people not wanting to believe that, actually — I don't want to believe it."
“Jesse was real. I am a real mom.”
Lewis told the Court that immediately after the shooting she could not bring herself to go home — Lewis was at the time a single mom of two — and instead went to her mother's house. When she finally returned home, she found a message her son had left on a chalkboard: "Nurturing Healing Love," spelled phonetically because as Lewis said, "he was in first grade and just learning to write.”
Lewis founded The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation to promote social and emotional learning in schools, as a result of her son's message.
"I have, since that day, dedicated my life to keeping kids safe," Lewis told Jones in court. "It's our responsibility. I used to think it was a school responsibility — it's actually our responsibility. I have dedicated my life to that, and having a quarter of Americans doubt that Sandy Hook happened or doubt the facts around Sandy Hook is not conducive to keeping our kids safe."
December 14 of 2022 will mark 10 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since 2013, mass shootings in the United States have tripled, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that collects gun violence reports from media, government, law enforcement and commercial sources.
“Jesse was real,” Lewis said as she continued to address Jones. “I am a real mom.”
During the hearing, the defense played footage of Jones on his show, discussing the proceedings and testimony from Jesse's father.
"I thought it was an act when I saw some of the stuff on TV, because he came off as so ... let's just say, he's a nice man and he's not an act," Jones told his audience. "He is being manipulated by some very bad people. I'll just say it, because I got to be honest: He's slow, OK? And his ex-wife is not."
It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, punish you, for you to stop lying.
After the video was played, Lewis against addressed Jones directly, telling him, "You're not telling the truth. You know the truth, as a father."
She then asked him if the conspiracy theorist thought she was an actress.
"No I don't," Jones started to respond, before being silenced by District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble.
Lewis continued, telling Jones she believes he knows the truth and that the two parents are "at odds with our missions."
"I’m trying to spread love. I’m trying to keep kids safe," she added.
Lewis told Jones in court that she was testifying to "get you to stop" all the damage the provocateur has caused and "the fear that you've put people in from your following."
"This isn’t staged, like one of your people said," she told him. "This is a real event. It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, punish you, for you to stop lying. Saying it’s a hoax. It happened. It’s surreal what is going on here.
"I hope to accomplish an era of truth," Lewis added. "An era of truth. Please."