A public figure who is a victim of domestic violence. So Amber Heard spoke for herself in a 2018 article she wrote for The Washington Post. Hence the multi-million dollar lawsuit that ended in favor of Johnny Depp, Heard’s ex-husband and accused implicitly in the article. It was Depp himself who filed the lawsuit for “implicit defamation,” who sued his ex-wife asking her for $50 million in damages.
In fact, Heard referred in the article to the allegations of abuse she made in 2016, after their marriage ended. Not long after Heard responded and a defamation suit against Depp and a $100 million claim for damages followed for an article in Mail Online in 2020 in which the actor’s lawyer called the woman’s accusation a ‘buffalo’.
This led to a six-week trial in Fairfax, Virginia, where the plaintiff’s legal team asked the jury to “return Mr. Depp’s life.” The lawyers said the trial was not about money, but about the actor’s reputation, who asked the judges “to release him from the prison in which he has lived for the past six years.” In a closing argument, Heard’s attorney Ben Rothenborn said the lawsuit was not about Depp’s reputation, but was part of an ongoing smear campaign launched by the actor after Heard filed for divorce.
During six weeks of testimony in Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, the jury heard friends, including model Kate Moss, family members, doctors, therapists, and staff who worked and spent time with the former couple. Depp and Heard were also heard twice each, and for several days they gave different accounts for their report to the jury.
Their discussions were detailed in court. Aside from the alleged physical violence, allegations against Depp include keeping the dog out of a moving car window and painting messages in blood on the wall of a home in Australia after his finger was cut. In turn, Heard was accused of defeating his bed and faking bleeding wounds with nail polish.
As the plaintiff, the person who initiated the prosecution, Depp was the first to testify, telling the jury that he was “obsessed with the truth” and arguing that he was a victim of domestic violence during his relationship with Heard, not the other way around. He described his ex-wife’s allegations against him as “outrageous and disturbing”, saying they “penetrated” the entertainment industry.
When Heard took a stand, he made several allegations of physical and sexual assault on Depp, and burst into tears detailing some of them. She told the court that her ex-husband was jealous of the actors who were her co-stars, including Eddie Redmayne, Billy Bob Thornton and James Franco, and that during the alleged abuse she feared for her life.
During the trial, a couples therapist told the court that the couple committed “mutual abuse,” while two psychologists gave different accounts of whether Heard had PTSD from the abuse or had a personality disorder. A financial expert estimated that Depp incurred a profit loss of about $40 million due to Heard’s allegations, and several security guards and employees confirmed his allegations that his ex-wife was at times violent towards him.