Palm Beach News

Father of Child Killed at Sandy Hook Says FAU and Boca Police Ignored James Tracy's Harassment

Lenny Pozner is the father of a 6-year-old boy who was killed during the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He says he has been harassed constantly since former Florida Atlantic University James Tracy and other conspiracy theorists began popularizing the idea that the shooting was a hoax. Often, harassment comes in the form of "obnoxious" Facebook messages, Pozner says. "Comments like 'How much money did you make faking all of this?” or 'Prove your son died by digging up his grave'” — that type of rhetoric." Even first responders in Newtown get harassed and accused of lying. Little children who look like the ones who died are accused of being the same children, their existence touted as "evidence" of a government conspiracy. Last week, Pozner received death threats, recorded on his voicemail.

"It all comes from this group’s primary agitators," Pozner says via phone, meaning Tracy (who gets taken seriously because he "has 'PhD' after his name) as well as his like-minded conspiracy theorists Wolfgang Halbig and Holocaust denier Jim Fetzer (a retired professor).

Though Tracy has been fired, Pozner can't believe that Florida Atlantic University administrators let him continue to teach for so long. "I’m relieved that they finally took action, but it’s long overdue," Pozner says. "Turning a blind eye to Tracy’s indiscretions for so long is unconscionable. They've been stepping over dead bodies for three years. I’m disgusted." He was dismayed that the Schmidt Family Foundation gave the university a $16 million gift in 2014 with Tracy still on staff.

Pozner says that he has reported incidents of harassment to local authorities but that none has been resolved. As a result, he has been forced to move his family several times to keep one step ahead of predators. “Meanwhile, Sandy Hook Hoaxer Wolfgang Halbig has tried to have me arrested,” says Pozner. “He filed a false police report accusing me of harassment and trying to get into his house in Sorrento, Florida. None of that is true. I’ve never spoken to the man nor been anywhere near his home. Halbig is a very irreputable opportunist who has raised nearly $100,000 exploiting the Sandy Hook tragedy. He’s been reported to several state and federal agencies, including the FBI. In fact, he’s had several online donation accounts shut down for violating terms of service.”

Police reports show that Pozner complained to Boca police at least three times last year. There is no indication that any action was taken.

Boca Raton community service officer Joseph Cortez took all three of Pozner's reported calls. On March 11, 2015, the officer wrote in a report that "some unknown person has been posting images and using derogatory language on youtube, directed at him, causing emotional distress." The police report notes that Pozner named a Missouri resident as a harasser. It states that Pozner tried contacting YouTube and was filing a report "for documentation for what he feels is internet harassment."

The report also shows that Officer Cortez spoke to Pozner again on April 2, 2015. Pozner complained that "some unknown person has been posting images and using derogatory language directed at him, causing emotional distress. Complainant said that Wolfgang Halbig's website is posting his personal information on the website without his permission, and wanted to document the incident."

Then on May 4, 2015, Pozner called and "wanted to include the address and names of the subjects who have been posting his personal address, images and using derogatory language on youtube and facebook, directed at him, causing emotional distress." He gave James Tracy's Boca address and Halbig's address in Sorrento, Florida. 

None of the reports describe the content of the harassment, nor do they make any mention of Pozner's connection to Sandy Hook.

A Boca police spokesperson, Mark Economou, says that it's standard to only take a report because "nothing in the complaint referenced a crime." It's standard not to take further action unless its a nature of, 'I'm going to kill you, or violent threatening — but if it's just a report of harassment, a report is taken to notate it."

Pozner believes that harassers remain motivated by a fear that all high profile shootings will lead to nationwide gun confiscation. "They're delusional." Pozner says. The conspiracy theorists also question events like the Boston bombings or Paris attacks — "every new mass murder is now considered a staged event . They call these things ‘false-flags’ before the police even have a chance to collect the evidence — just total nonsense. They come up with crazy theories are pure fiction, like I was never at Noah's funeral or that I forged his death certificate. All of these claims have been debunked and more people are realizing just how nuts this conspiracy crowd has become." He points out that even Keith Johnson — once a writer for Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones— has come to his senses and turned into a debunker of conspiracy theories relating to the tragedy.

Interestingly, Pozner is licensed to carry a concealed firearm and says that he once entertained conspiracy-theories himself. "I understand the mindset," he says. "They have a confirmation bias. They believe and will forever distort whatever comes at them. I released Noah's death certificate and medical examiner's report. They claim that's also a faked." These are the same people who insisted that President Obama's birth certificate is fake. "That was their big thing, and then Sandy Hook gave them the project of a lifetime."

Only when Pozner wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Sun Sentinel in December did the university move to fire Tracy (though the school claimed that failure to fill out a form was the reason for his firing).

“Losing a son and the unwanted attention I’ve received has forced me to relocate my family," says Pozner, who has two children. "This has had a devastating impact on my professional life as well. In other words, my life has been turned upside down and having to deal with predators and con men has deprived me of living a normal life.” There was also drama with his brother-in-law interfering in the wake of the crisis. And then, the hoaxers. Pozner started an organization, the HONR Network, to fight back. 

If any justice is coming, it's moving slowly. Tracy has suggested he will sue FAU, so his case will likely drag out. ("Even serial killer’s get their day in court," Pozner concedes.) Pozner has filed a civil suit against Wolfgang Halbig that "it’s costing me a ridiculous amount of money." Pozner, on behalf of his son's estate, is also suing the Town of Newtown, and Noah's school and school board in Newtown. he is also suing the manufacturer of the guns in the Sandy Hook killing. 
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Deirdra Funcheon