The father of a child killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012 was awarded $450,000 from a jury after he filed suit against a conspiracy theorist who falsely claimed his son did not die in the tragedy.
A jury in Dane County, Wisconsin, concluded last week that former professor James Fetzer, who co-authored the book Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, must pay Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son was the youngest victim of the 2012 mass shooting, for defaming the father.
At issue was Fetzer’s false claim that Pozner fabricated parts of his son’s death certificate, which appeared in both Fetzer’s book and his blog, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Pozner said in a statement after the jury reached their decision that the case was not about First Amendment rights, but rather “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.”
“Mr. Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened,” stated Pozner, as reported by the State Journal. “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.”
Fetzer, who believes that the entire Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged by the Obama administration to justify stricter gun laws, labeled the decision “outrageous.”
Moon Rocks Books, the Florida-based publisher that had released the Fetzer book, stopped selling it earlier this year and gave an official apology to Pozner.
In June, a Wisconsin judge ruled that Fetzer was guilty of defaming Pozner when he falsely claimed that Pozner had changed his son’s death certificate.
Jake Zimmerman, lawyer for Pozner, told National Public Radio at the time that the legal victory for Pozner was a win for all the families who lost loved ones in the 2012 mass shooting.
“Most of them are mentioned one way or another in these books. Most of them are accused of being either crisis actors or a part of a government cover-up,” stated Zimmerman.
“And so having that book go off the shelves is a victory for not just the families of Sandy Hook but really for the people in the community.”