Amber Heard took the stand today and tearfully described alleged abuse by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, who is suing her for defamation. The high-profile trial, which is being held in Fairfax County, Virginia, is in its fourth week. This is the second lawsuit stemming from the former relationship between Depp and Heard, following a trial in the U.K. in 2020.
Yesterday, Depp’s legal team rested its case, claiming that the Pirates of the Caribbean actor was defamed by an op-ed Heard published in the Washington Post in 2018. In the op-ed, Heard referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” While Heard did not mention Depp by name in the op-ed, over nearly two weeks of testimony and two dozen witnesses, Depp and his legal team made the case that the op-ed not only defamed him, but was “catastrophic” for his career. Heard is expected to argue that Depp’s career was already on the rocks.
After Depp’s attorneys rested their case, Heard’s legal team asked the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that Depp had not proven his case. The judge, Penny Azcarate, partially denied the motion, saying that Depp’s team had shown sufficient evidence of defamation to allow the case to continue.
Psychologist Dawn Hughes’ testimony
On Tuesday, Heard called her first witness, Dawn Hughes, a clinical and forensic psychologist who specializes in abusive relationships. Hughes testified that after interviewing Heard, analyzing her case files, and interviewing some of Heard’s physicians, as well as her mother, she believes that Heard suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from her relationship with Depp.
On the stand, Hughes described several alleged sexual assaults by Depp, including a “cavity search” he conducted on Heard while they were married, People reports. One incident described by the psychologist involved Depp allegedly yelling “I will kill you” while putting a liquor bottle inside Heard’s body. Hughes testified that Heard was repeatedly “subjected to sexual violence” from Depp.
Depp and his lawyers have denied any sexual violence by him in the couple’s relationship.
Hughes’ cross examination
After Hughes, the forensic psychologist, testified that she determined Heard suffered from PTSD, Depp’s attorney cross examined her. He replayed audio heard earlier in the trial, in which Heard confessed to hitting Depp. Hughes testified that Heard admitted to hitting Depp “a number of times, in a number of instances,” Deadline reports.
Depp’s attorney pointed out that while Hughes interviewed Heard a number of times, she never spoke to Depp. Hughes argued that her analysis was determined by talking with Heard as well as reading deposition testimony, poring over transcripts, and reviewing text messages.
Hughes’ testimony directly contradicts the findings of Dr. Shannon Curry, the forensic psychologist hired by Depp’s team, who testified that Heard showed no signs of PTSD.
Amber Heard’s testimony
Heard took the stand today to defend herself in the $50 million defamation suit brought against her by her ex-husband. Under oath, the actress recounted the early days of her relationship with Depp and recalled falling “head over heels in love” with the actor. She recalled the first time Depp allegedly hit her, in winter 2011. “I will never forget it. It changed my life,” she said.
Heard often grew tearful while describing the incident. “I’m all of a sudden realizing that the worst thing that could happen to me happened,” she said.
The darker days of the couple’s relationship have been on full display during the trial. “I struggle to find the words to describe how painful this is,” Heard testified, according to People. “This is horrible for me to sit here for weeks and relive everything. This is the most painful and difficult thing I’ve ever gone through, for sure.”
What happens next
Heard is expected to continue testifying—and face cross-examination—on Thursday.
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