A Florida woman who believed that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school was a hoax was sentenced to five months in prison this week for threatening the father of six-year-old Noah Pozner, one of the 20 young victims who died in the shooting.
US district judge James Cohn called Lucy Richards’ actions towards Leonard Pozner “disturbing” and condemned those who spread false claims about the deaths of 20 children and six adults in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, five years ago.
“This is reality and there is no fiction. There are no alternative facts,” Cohn told Richards, 57, at her sentencing.
“You have the absolute right to think and believe as you so desire,” the judge said. “You do not have the right to transmit threats to another.”
For Pozner, who has become an activist devoted to combatting the conspiracy theorists that target family members of victims, the sentencing is a “powerful outcome” that he hopes will raise awareness of the serious harm that hoaxers cause.
“It draws a line,” he said, “and it shows people that this is not a game that’s online, and there are actual consequences for someone who steps over the line.”