HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) â€” Infowars host Alex Jones offered to pay $120,000 per plaintiff to resolve a lawsuit by relatives of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims who said he defamed them by asserting the massacre never happened, according to court filings Tuesday. The offer was quickly rejected by the families.
A Connecticut judge found Jones liable for damages in November, and a trial is planned to determine how much he should pay the families.
The plaintiffs said they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jonesâ€™ followers because of the hoax conspiracy promoted on his show.
The court filings posted online said: â€œMr. Jones extends his heartfelt apology for any distress his remarks caused.â€
Last week Jones defied a court order to attend a deposition near his home in Austin, Texas, to provide testimony ahead of the trial. Jones said he was ill. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on a request by the plaintiffs to sanction Jones for not cooperating.
Lawyers for the families rejected the settlement offer within a few hours, saying in court filings that it was a â€œtransparent and desperate attempt by Alex Jones to escape a public reckoning under oath with his deceitful, profit-driven campaign against the plaintiffs and the memory of their loved ones lost at Sandy Hook.â€
Twenty first graders and six educators were killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The families of eight of the victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school sued Jones, Infowars and others in Connecticut over the hoax conspiracy. Jones has since said he believes the shooting did occur.
Jones also was found liable for damages in similar lawsuits filed in Texas by relatives of Sandy Hook victims, and also faces trial later this year.