Lawyer: Sandy Hook parents isolate with security due to safety concerns during Texas Alex Jones trial

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Scarlett Lewis, left, and Neil Heslin, right, the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis

Scarlett Lewis, left, and Neil Heslin, right, the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis

Briana Sanchez / Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis have gone into isolation with an around-the-clock security detail following an unspecified number of “encounters” that left the parents “terrified” while in Texas for their defamation case against Alex Jones, their attorney said Monday.

Mark Bankston, the family’s attorney, confirmed the situation in a handwritten statement to Hearst Connecticut Media on Monday afternoon, as Jones' jury trial to determine damages for spreading conspiracies about Sandy Hook continued into its second week.

“Unfortunately, due to some encounters this week outside of the courthouse, Neil and Scarlett have gone into isolation under the protection of security professionals,” Bankston said.

Citing ongoing security concerns, Bankston declined to provide additional details about the encounters, other than to say that there have been multiple incidents around the city of Austin involving both Heslin and Lewis, who he said have remained together since they arrived in the Texas capital.

Jones’ attorney, F. Andino Reynal, declined to comment on the situation Monday when told of Bankston’s statement.

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Heslin and Lewis are the parents of Jesse Lewis, a first grader who was among the 20 children and six adults killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They sued Jones four years ago after facing repeated threats from Jones’ followers, egged on by his claims that the shooting did not happen and that Jesse Lewis did not actually die.

Jones has since said that he believes the shooting happened and that children did die

On Monday, a pair of therapists testified that both parents have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety as a result of threats and the resurgent publicity around Jesse’s death caused by conspiracy theories.

A forensic therapist hired by the parent’s legal team, Dr. Roy Lubit, testified that Heslin had become withdrawn from friends after repeated run-ins with believers in Jones’ conspiracies, and after someone fired shots at Heslin’s home and vehicle. Scarlett Lewis now sleeps next to a gun and knife, he said.

In his statement Monday, Bankston said that those fears have continued during the parents’ stay in Austin for the trial.

“The simple and depressing truth is that they are in fear of their lives,” Bankston said.

The encounters occurred in Austin, but not directly outside the courthouse, he said. For protection, Bankston said the parents have hired a “large” and well-trained team of security guards that are constantly by their side whenever they are not in the courtroom.

Bankston declined to say whether the parents or their guards have filed a police report, though he later added “if it becomes necessary to call law enforcement, they will be called.”

CT Insider reached out to the Austin Police Department and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office on Monday to confirm if any complaints have been made pertaining to the concerns. As yet, police haven't provided comment.

The parents have been a steady presence in the fifth-floor courtroom in downtown Austin since opening statements began last week. Monday was the first day of the trial during which both parents were absent from most of the testimony, due to the advice of their therapists who said it could impact their ongoing treatment. Both Heslin and Lewis were seen in the courtroom Monday morning.

Despite their fears, both are still expecting to testify on Tuesday, Bankston said.

“Neil and Scarlett are committed to finishing this trial because this moment is bigger than just them,” Bankston wrote in the statement.

Bankston also offered praise for the bailiffs and courtroom deputies that provide security in and around the courthouse for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, saying they had performed “superlative” work during the trial.

Jones has his own security detail in constant tow whenever he shows up at the courthouse, which he has done sporadically since the trial began last week.