In emotional testimony Thursday, Robbie Parker, the parent of a Sandy Hook shooting victim, recounted the violent threats and harassment he and his family have faced since conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was branded a crisis actor.
The day after their six-year-old daughter, Emilie, was killed in a 2012 shooting, Parker made a statement to the press. Hours later, Jones was on his InfoWars show, describing himself as a crisis actor to millions of viewers. (Jones acknowledged that he spoke about Parker by name when he testified earlier in the trial, which was to determine how much he should pay the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims for lying about the Sandy Hook massacre.)
Later that night, unable to sleep, Parker said hateful messages about the press conference began flooding Emilie’s memorial Facebook page. Parker said he took down Emilie’s memorial Facebook page after the shooting because the harassment was too much to control.
“I felt like I couldn’t protect Emilie’s name or her memory any longer, so I had to take it down,” Parker said through tears.
As the days passed and the harassment escalated, Parker’s family became paranoid. Guests were asked what Emilie’s life was like at the wake and funeral services. Ultimately, they chose to wake the locked casket out of concern that someone might try to take pictures of Emilie’s body or her belongings, Parker testified.
“I was paranoid and he was paranoid. Like we just closed. We were just zombies. I hardly remember what I said on the day of the funeral,” said Alissa Parker in her testimony in front of her husband. “They stole that from me.”
Robbie Parker, who in many ways has been the face of Jones’ fraudulent account of the shooting, said he reported harassment and threats to Facebook and YouTube to law enforcement and social media attacks. “I was like asking and asking for their help,” she said. But that didn’t count either, he declared.
For years, she tried to ignore him, threatening her family and choosing not to hang out with people she thought were actors. “That’s what they taught me, that you don’t engage with a bully,” he said. “If someone bullies you, you ignore them and eventually they get tired and leave you alone. And that served me in my life.”
The family moved to Washington state in early 2014. A few months later, however, Robbie Parker realized that the “fraudsters” had found them. He said he saw a YouTube video detailing the sale of the new home and new address.
“And immediately the sense of security that I thought we had was completely shattered,” he said. “They were coming in these waves and when Alex Jones said something it was like I knew we were going to get a big wave of stuff.”
Through tears, she recalled a man she confronted on a Seattle street in the fall of 2016, nearly four years after the shooting. Shouting and cursing, the man asked her how she could sleep at night and how much the government was paying her to cheat.
Robbie Parker said he confronted the man trying to defend his family for the first time as a crowd of onlookers gathered. He said he eventually got away from the heckler, but first walked around the block several times to make sure no one was following him before returning to his family.
His wife described the change she saw in her husband, as he took on the weight of the family’s security.
“I would say that the most painful thing is how he changed his view of himself. He felt very ashamed. And he felt that it was all his fault that this had happened. And he felt like our family was attacked because of him and all the other families were attacked,” he said.
The emotional testimony ended the third week of the trial. Plaintiffs in the three Connecticut lawsuits against Jones, including family members of eight school students and staff and an FBI agent who responded to the scene, have been bound over for trial.
The jury has now heard from most of the plaintiffs named in the case and the plaintiffs’ lawyers have indicated that they will wrap up their case early next week.
Jones will testify again next week in his defense case. The jury will then decide how much Jones and the company should pay each of the 15 plaintiffs who say they were negatively affected by the fraudulent coverage of the shooting.
Judge Barbara Bellis found the defendants liable last year in large part because Jones and the company failed to complete the evidence during the discovery process, according to court filings.
Robbie Parker made the weekly commute to sit in a Connecticut courtroom before testifying this week. At the start of his testimony on Wednesday, he said, “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
– CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.