Ex-professor who called Sandy Hook shooting a hoax sues over firing

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Sandy Hook Denier Files Lawsuit Against Florida College

TAMPA, Fla., April 26 (Reuters) - A former Florida college professor who was fired after he suggested the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax has sued the school for violation of his right to free speech, his attorney said on Tuesday.

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James Tracy was dismissed in January by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he had taught since 2002. His website, MemoryHoleBlog.com, gained notice in 2013 after he claimed the December 2012 massacre by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged. The attack killed 26 people, including 20 children.

The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court on Monday, claims that the firing violated his rights, including free speech protections under the U.S. Constitution. Tracy seeks to be reinstated and compensated for economic and other damages, according to a copy of the lawsuit provided by his attorney.

"Tenure, free speech, due process and academic freedom are under attack," his attorney Louis Leo IV said in a news release.

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Ex-professor who called Sandy Hook shooting a hoax sues over firing

Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. -- 28 killed, 2 injured on December 14, 2012

This Dec. 14, 2012 aerial file photo shows officials standing outside of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A report, released Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, on the Newtown school shooting says that gunman Adam Lanza had an obsession with mass murders but that investigators did not discover any evidence he had indicated to others an intention to carry out such a crime. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, file)

Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, Ky. -- 3 killed on January 15, 2014

Hazard Community and Technical College Senior Director of Advancement Ron Daley, right, stands in a parking lot on campus where at least two people were killed and one person was injured Tuesday evening on January 15, 2013. (Joshua Ball/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)

Lone Star College - North Harris in Houston, Texas -- 3 injured on January 22, 2013

Students wait outside an entrance to the Lone Star College North Harris campus after a shooting on campus on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 in Houston. The shooting wounded three people and sent students fleeing for safety as officials placed the campus on lockdown, officials said. Harris County Sheriff's Maj. Armando Tello said authorities had detained a person of interest. Police did not provide any details about the people who were wounded. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif. -- 6 killed, 4 injured on June 7, 2013

Police search the grounds of Santa Monica College after multiple shootings were reported on the campus June 7, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. At least six people died in the shooting rampage before police shot and killed a black-clad gunman in the college library, police said. (Photo credit JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nevada -- 2 killed, 2 injured on October 21, 2013

Law enforcement gather in the parking lot after a shooting at Sparks Middle School October 21, 2013 in Sparks, Nevada. A staff member was killed and two students were injured after a student opened fire at the Nevada middle school. The suspected gunman was also killed. (Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. -- 2 killed on December 13, 2013

Community members gather during a remembrance of Claire Davis on the one-year anniversary of her death after shooting took place at Arapahoe High School. The remembrance was hosted at Clarity Commons on the school's campus on December 13, 2014. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico -- 3 injured on January 14, 2014

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez stands with 8th graders Kendal Sanders and Nathaniel Tavarez during her State of the State address at the New Mexico state capitol in Santa Fe, N.M., Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Sanders and Tavarez were shot and injured by a class mate at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M. last year. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)

Delaware Valley Charter School in Philadelphia, Penn. -- 2 injured on January 17, 2014

A police stands by caution tape at the Delaware Valley Charter School Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Philadelphia. Police say two students have been shot at the Philadelphia high school. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Near University of California, Santa Barbara, in Isla Vista, Calif. -- 7 killed, 13 injured on May 23, 2014

A woman places a candle in front of IV Deli Mart, where par of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter, on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in the beach community of Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Wash. -- 1 killed, 3 injured on June 5, 2014

Students view a growing memorial at Seattle Pacific University near Otto Miller Hall Friday, June 6, 2014 in Seattle, where a fatal shooting took place Thursday afternoon. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore. -- 2 killed, 1 injured on June 10, 2014

Freshman Hailee Siebert, 15, cries on her mothers shoulder after students arrived at a shopping center parking lot in Wood Village, Ore., after a shooting at Reynolds High School Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in nearby Troutdale. A gunman killed a student at the high school east of Portland Tuesday and the shooter is also dead, police said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash. -- 5 killed, 1 injured on October 24, 2014

In this Oct. 24, 2014 file photo, Madison Wahlgren, 15, a sophomore at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, holds a candle following a memorial vigil at the Grove Church in Marysville, Wash. Earlier in the day, a student opened fire in the cafeteria before taking his own life. One victim died the day of the shooting and three others died of their wounds in the days that followed. The shooting was among the top stories in Washington state in 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fl. -- 1 killed, 3 injured on November 20, 2014

The Florida State University Marching Chiefs play during the Gathering of Unity candlelight vigil on campus after the shooting of three FSU students earlier in the day on November 20, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida. About 3,000 students attended the vigil according to FSU Police Chief David Perry. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Rosemary Anderson High School in Portland, Ore. -- 3 injured on December 12, 2014

Police investigators, parents, students and faculty members stand outside Rosemary Anderson High School following a shooting at the alternative school in Portland, Ore., Friday Dec., 12, 2014. A shooter wounded two boys and a girl outside the U.S. high school Friday in what is believed to be a gang-related attack, police said. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, NC -- 1 killed on April 13, 2015

A police officer stands by as students and faculty are allowed to return following a lockdown at Wayne Community College, in Goldsboro, N.C., Monday, April 13, 2015. One person was killed in a shooting at the community college that was locked down as authorities searched for a gunman, officials said. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. -- 1 killed on September 14, 2015

Liz Schmidt, widow of Delta State University history professor Ethan Schmidt, who was murdered by a colleague in his office Monday, left, is comforted by friends, Jenn Westmoreland, center and Amy Cotrell, prior to a candlelight memorial in his honor on the Cleveland, Miss., campus, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. -- 10 killed, 9 injured on October 1, 2015

Jessica Vazquez, left, hugs her aunt Leticia Acaraz as they await word on Acaraz's daughter at the local fairgrounds after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. -- 1 killed, 3 injured on October 9, 2015

Authorities investigate the scene outside a student dormitory in Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, after an early morning fight between two groups of college students escalated into gunfire leaving one person dead and three others wounded, authorities said. The shooting occurred near the Northern Arizona University campus. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas -- 1 dead, 1 injured on October 9, 2015

Authorities investigate a shooting at Texas Southern University, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, in Houston. A student was killed and another person was wounded in a shooting outside a student-housing complex on Friday, and police have detained at least two people, authorities said. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP) 


University spokesman Joshua Glanzer declined in an email to comment, saying the case had not been served.

University officials had said Tracy was terminated for failing to submit forms explaining his outside activities for conflict of interest review.

Tracy also said the 2015 San Bernardino attack, in which a militant Muslim couple killed 14 people, was a hoax and raised conspiracy theories about other mass killings nationally.

Tracy, whose work included a course entitled "Culture of Conspiracy," sent a letter in December to the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner demanding proof they were his parents.

Tracy's lawsuit also names university officials and faculty union representatives.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Richard Chang)

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