Psychiatrist says Sandy Hook parents fear for their lives

Aug 1, 2022, 11:07 AM | Updated: 9:20 pm
Alex Jones' lawyer Andino Reynal gives his opening statement to the jury, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, a...

Alex Jones' lawyer Andino Reynal gives his opening statement to the jury, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas. (Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)

(Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim live with a complex form of post-traumatic stress disorder and a constant fear that followers of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will kill them, a psychiatrist testified Monday at Jones’ defamation trial.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, have sued Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems over the harassment and threats they and other parents say they’ve endured for years while Jones and his Infowars website claimed the 2012 attack that killed 20 first-graders and six school staffers was a hoax or faked.

“The overwhelming cause of their pain is what Jones is doing,” said Roy Lubit, a forensic psychiatrist hired by the plaintiffs to review the trauma faced by the parents.

The post-traumatic stress disorder the parents suffer from is not based on a single event, but on constant trauma, and is similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or child abuse victims, Lubit said.

Heslin and Scarlett Lewis are consumed not just with the memory of their son’s horrific death, but the denials and attacks on them and their son’s legacy they’ve endured for years. He noted the security the parents hired to protect them at the two-week trial.

Lubit said Heslin has had guns fired at his home and has been accosted on the street. Scarlett Lewis told Lubit that she installed sophisticated surveillance equipment at her home and sleeps with a gun, a knife and pepper spray at her bedside.

Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal tried to attack the credibility of Lubit’s testimony and whether he is biased in favor of the parents, who are seeking at least $150 million in the case. He noted that Lubit briefly ran for Congress in Connecticut as a Democrat in 2018.

“You don’t like Alex Jones, do you?” Reynal asked.

“I don’t like what he does,” Lubit answered.

Mark Bankston, attorney for Heslin and Lewis, said the family has gone into isolation under a “large and professional security team” because of an incident that happened since the trial began. He did not provide details of what happened.

“They are in isolation and they are going to stay that way, and all I can tell you is they are terrified right now,” Bankston said.

Heslin and Lewis have have attended almost all of the trial since opening statements on July 26, and first arrived at the courthouse with a small security detail. They left the courtroom together Monday morning.

Michael Crouch, a Connecticut psychologist who has treated Heslin and Stewart, said the lies about a Sandy Hook hoax stole precious memories of their son.

“If Alex Jones, if he was spreading the belief, the lies, that Neil’s an actor, that means Jesse doesn’t exist. Which is crazy,” Crouch said. “You’re taking away what they know of their son, what they want to hold on to.”

Heslin and Lewis are expected to testify Tuesday as the final witnesses for their side.

Reynal said Jones will testify Tuesday in his own defense.

Monday’s testimony also included videotaped depositions from an Infowars reporter who said that at the website, there was no fact-checking, source-vetting, verifying information through second sources or training about journalistic standards.

Jones, who has attended only some of the trial, was not in the courtroom for Monday morning’s testimony.

The trial is in Texas because Jones lives in Austin and his media company, Free Speech Systems, is based there. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection, though defense attorneys say that should not disrupt the trial, which is in its second week.

Free Speech Systems, which operates Infowars, listed $14.3 million in assets. That includes almost $1.16 million in cash and almost $1.6 million in property and equipment, as of May 31.

It also listed $79 million in liabilities, with a $54 million debt owed to PQPR Holdings.

Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over the $54 million debt listing, arguing that PQBR is a Nevada-registered company owned by Jones and his family through shell entities. That lawsuit in state court is still pending.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges issued default judgements against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.


For more of the AP’s coverage of school shootings:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

              Mark Bankston, lawyer for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, questions Daria Karpova, InfoWars producer, during the trial against Alex Jones Wednesday, July 27, 2022, at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas.   (Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)
              Alex Jones' lawyer Andino Reynal gives his opening statement to the jury, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas. (Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)


(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
2 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
5 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
5 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
11 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
19 days ago
(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...
Sponsored Content by OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here's what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Psychiatrist says Sandy Hook parents fear for their lives