When Gene Rosen found six small children crying at the end of his Newtown, Conn. driveway on Dec. 14, he opened his home to them. He got stuffed animals and juice and listened to their horrific stories, stories of a man with guns, and of their first-grade teacher, Mrs. Soto.
“We can’t go back to school,” one little boy said. “Our teacher is dead.”
Rosen, 69, sheltered these kids, who somehow escaped the fate of 20 of their peers in the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting, and called their distressed parents. Now, he’s being harassed by conspiracy theorists who claim the Sandy Hook shooting never happened.
The Sandy Hook Truther Movement, like so many conspiracy theories before it, weaves trivial details together to create a thin — but for some, believable — tale of fraud perpetrated to nefarious ends by the U.S. government. There’s Emilie Parker, a 6-year-old girl killed in the shooting, who Sandy Hook Truthers insist never died. Or Dawn Hochsprung, Sandy Hook’s principal, who was gunned down by shooter Adam Lanza, but was later apparently quoted in the Newtown Bee.
Then there’s the cast of suspicious characters: parents of those killed, witnesses and community members — many of whom the Truthers say are paid actors. Truthers claim that Rosen, a retired psychologist, was paid by the government for his emotional television interviews. They say he is a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild (the Gene Rosen who is a SAG member is actually 62), that he changed his story, that he needed to be reminded of his lines. One video‘s description even accuses Rosen of “pedo under-tones.”
He told Salon he didn’t know how to handle the barrage of harassing calls and emails accusing him of fraud, or the websites pointing out alleged proof he’s part of a hoax.
“I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’”
For a man whose son went to Sandy Hook and who’s grandson is 8 years old, it’s all too much. Though Rosen said he is a staunch believer in free speech, he can’t believe how bold the Truthers have become with their outlandish claims.
“There must be some way to morally shame these people.”
Read the full story on Salon.com.