Father of Sandy Hook victim awarded $450,000 in case against conspiracy theorist who claims tragedy never happened

Rozina Sabur
Leonard Pozner with son Noah who was killed at Sandy Hook

The father of a boy killed in America's 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting has been awarded $450,000 in a defamation suit against conspiracy theorists who claimed it never happened.

Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was killed during one of the country's most shocking school massacres, sued James Fetzer and Mike Palacek over their book Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, in which they claimed he had faked his son's death certificate. 

In the book, the pair claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax staged by President Barack Obama's administration as a means to enact tighter gun restrictions. 

Mr Palacek reached an undisclosed settlement with Mr Pozner last month but the defamation case against Mr Fetzer proceeded. This week a jury ruled he must pay Mr Pozner close to half a million dollars in damages.

Mr Fetzer, a retired University of Minnesota Duluth professor, called the figure "absurd" and said he would appeal. He had argued that the statements in his book were "true" and insisted there was no proof it was the inspiration for Mr Pozner's harassers. 

A snowflake ornament hangs on a Christmas tree at a makeshift memorial in Newtown Credit: Julio Cortez/AP

During the defamation trial Mr Pozner described how he has spent years being plagued by conspiracy theorists who have harassed him, subjected him to death threats and claimed that he was an actor and his son never existed. 

He said that Mr Fetzer's writing caused him to fear for his and his surviving children's safety. One of his two daughters is Noah's twin sister.

Mr Pozner thanked the jury "for recognising the pain and terror that Mr Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events".

"Mr Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened," he said. "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."

Mr Pozner said he has spent years getting Facebook and other platforms to remove conspiracy videos and set up a website to debunk conspiracy theories.

Mr Pozener's case is not unique. Several relatives of the 20 children and six adults killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have been forced to battle harassment and ridiculous assertions for years. 

A defamation case by Sandy Hook parents against Alex Jones, host of the conspiracy-driven "Infowars" website, is still proceeding.