After weeks of testimonies from dozens of witnesses, the high-profile defamation case between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has finally reached an end.
Following a six-week trial and less than three days of deliberation, the jury in the defamation case between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard ruled that Heard defamed Depp on all three counts, awarding Depp $15 million dollars in damages. In Heard’s countersuit, Depp was found guilty of one of three charges, with Heard awarded $2 million dollars in compensatory damages.
Depp filed a $50 million defamation case against his ex-wife Amber Heard in 2019, alleging that a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post, in which she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” but did not mention Depp by name, harmed his reputation and career. Heard countersued for $100 million after Depp’s lawyer called her allegations a “hoax.”
What led up to this
Throughout the trial, Depp and Heard presented their own versions of several shocking instances of alleged abuse. In his testimony, Depp accused Heard of leaving human feces on his bed and severing his finger by throwing a vodka bottle at him, and attempted to explain audio recordings and text messages that detailed abuse against Heard.
On the stand, Heard alleged that Depp abused her physically during their relationship, describing multiple instances of alleged violence. She detailed an altercation in which she hit Depp, claiming it was in defense of her sister, Whitney Henriquez, who interfered during an argument. “I just, in my head, instantly think of Kate Moss and stairs, and I swung at him,” Heard said.
Moss later testified that Depp never pushed her down the stairs. The trial also included testimonies from an array of witnesses that included the chief operating officer and general counsel of the ACLU, Terence Dougherty—who walked the jury through the organization’s involvement with Heard’s op-ed and detailed the timeline of Heard’s pledged donations to the organization—and the manager of Depp’s Bahamas Islands estate, who described arguments between the couple.
The case is Depp’s second defamation lawsuit involving his relationship with Heard. In 2020, Depp lost a libel case against the U.K. tabloid, The Sun, after he sued its publisher over a 2018 headline that referred to him as a “wife-beater.” After hearing from a range of witnesses, the presiding judge ruled that 12 of the 14 instances of abuse by Depp had occurred—and that The Sun’s article was “substantially true.”
What happens next
In a statement posted shortly after the verdict was announced, Heard expressed her disappointment in the verdict. “I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said.
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