A parent whose child was killed in a school shooting and who was personally targeted by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as being an actor in a hoax testified about the onslaught of abuse he and his family suffered after harassers descended upon them.
Robbie Parker’s 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was among the 20 children and six adults killed in the 2012 Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. A day after her death, Parker held a news conference to talk about his little girl. Just before he approached the microphones, Parker gave a nervous laugh. It was all Jones needed to accuse Parker of being a “crisis actor” involved in a staged event.
Jones’ fanatics immediately began to descend upon the family, Robbie and his wife, Alissa, testified in a Connecticut courtroom Wednesday. The parents are among several Sandy Hook families suing Jones for the sickening lies he spread for years claiming the shooting was a staged event. A jury will now decide how much Jones ― who has already lost more than $45 million in a previous Sandy Hook defamation case ― must pay to the Connecticut families.
“It was very tender,” Alissa testified about Robbie’s news conference that day. “It was about this beautiful girl that was gone from our lives and that our life was not defined by this horrible moment but that we knew this beautiful being, and [Robbie] captured that.”
A news conference meant to celebrate their daughter’s life was instead turned into conspiracy fodder for Jones’ Infowars audience. In the years to follow, Alissa and Robbie received threatening letters and emails. On a memorial page for his daughter, Robbie found himself up late at night desperately trying to delete vile messages from extremists.
“That really threw me off,” Robbie testified. “I was looking for something to keep me stable because my compass was spinning, I didn’t know which way was what, and seeing these comments broke that connection I had, that stability.”
Robbie said what started as a “littering of comments” from attackers soon “became just a burning trash pile.”
Among the messages, which Alissa described as a “full on assault” were threats of violence and heinous insults, including calling their 6-year-old deceased daughter a “whore.”
The parents described Emilie as a sweet girl who loved art and who put others before herself. Emilie didn’t throw temper tantrums because she was so good at verbalizing her emotions, and in photos with her two younger sisters, always had her arms wrapped tightly around the both of them, the parents testified.
In his testimony, Robbie described the day Emilie was born.
“I was so scared almost by how much I could love somebody so immediately,” he said. “I’d never felt so vulnerable in my entire life as I did in that moment when Emilie was looking at me.”
During his testimony last week, Jones was asked about the lies he spread about Robbie and offered no remorse for the pain he inflicted on him and his family, at one point saying he was “done saying I’m sorry.”
“For years and years and years, you called these families actors, correct?” attorney Chris Mattei, who is representing the plaintiffs, asked Jones.
“No,” Jones said.
“You called Robbie Parker an actor many times,” Mattei said.
“I said it looked like he was acting,” Jones responded.