A media company founded by far-right radio personality and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday after a slew of lawsuits filed by the parents of children who were killed at a Connecticut elementary school nearly a decade ago.
The company that runs the Infowars radio program and associated digital properties filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court after a judge held Jones and his media company liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by the families of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The shooting claimed the lives of 20 children and seven adults at the school. It was perpetrated by Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old Connecticut man whose motive remains unknown. Jones repeatedly and falsely claimed on his radio program that the shooting was a “hoax” and claimed the families were “actors” who faked the deaths of their children.
The families sued Jones for his comments, claiming the radio show host subjected them to harassment from his listening audience and other members of the public. Jones and his lawyers said the lawsuits were a threat to his First Amendment rights, but a judge found against him, and the court was in the process of selecting a jury in order to calculate and award the families damages in the case, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The lawsuits have already damaged a considerable amount of Jones’ business: His Infowars profiles on YouTube, Twitter and other platforms have been removed over the last few years as the scope and spread of his conspiracy theories became too much for the companies to bear.
His radio program continues to be distributed on a few fringe broadcast radio stations across the country after his show was removed from Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms.
In court filings published on Monday, Jones and his lawyers said Infowars would be managed by a neutral party throughout the bankruptcy proceeding. The appointing of a neutral party would allow for the possibility of a settlement, they said.
Jones and Infowars have spent around $10 million fighting the lawsuits, the Journal reported. He previously offered to settle with the Sandy Hook families for $120,000 a plaintiff. The settlement offer was rejected.
A lawyer representing the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims said the bankruptcy petition was merely delaying the inevitable.
“[He] will be held accountable for his profit-driven campaign of lies against the Sandy Hook families who have brought this lawsuit,” Chris Mattei, a lawyer representing the families, said in a statement.