US jury awards compensation to victim's father over claims Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax

Mr Leonard Pozner, whose son Noah, six, was among the victims, lodged a court case alleging that James Fetzer's 2015 book, Nobody Died At Sandy Hook, was defamatory.
Mr Leonard Pozner, whose son Noah, six, was among the victims, lodged a court case alleging that James Fetzer's 2015 book, Nobody Died At Sandy Hook, was defamatory.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The author of a book denying that a United States school massacre took place was ordered to pay US$450,000 (S$616,000) in compensation to the father of a victim, lawyers said on Wednesday (Oct 16).

A gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut on Dec 14, 2012, but the massacre has sparked false claims that it was a government hoax.

Mr Leonard Pozner, whose six-year-old son Noah was among the victims, lodged a court case alleging that Mr James Fetzer's 2015 book, Nobody Died At Sandy Hook, was defamatory and had resulted in death threats against him.

The judge in Wisconsin previously ruled that three passages of the book were defamatory, and a jury on Tuesday awarded Mr Pozner US$450,000 in damages.

"The jury's verdict reflects the serious damage caused to Mr Pozner," his lawyer said in a statement to AFP. "This case is a victory for everyone who values truth and facts and reality."

At the trial, Mr Pozner said he had released his son's death certificate on an online memorial page in the interests of transparency.

"After doing that, I was accused of being a fake and a fraud," he said.

Mr Fetzer said he stood by the book, including his claim that the death certificate was fake.

Conspiracy theorists claim the Sandy Hook school shooting involved "actors" in a plot to discredit the gun lobby.

 

A woman who claimed the massacre was a hoax was sentenced to five months in prison in 2017 for making death threats against Mr Pozner.