Amber Heard Lost: Big victory for Johnny Depp in defamation case against her. Jury awarded him $15 million in damages.
Johnny Depp may have gone some way to salvaging his reputation after winning a bitter $50 million libel trial against Amber Heard. A seven-person civil jury in Fair fax, Virginia, ruled in favor of Depp and awarded him $15 million in damages, although the judge ruled that award too high. The jury also awarded $2 million damages to Heard.
The jury had listened to six weeks of evidence that swung from harrowing to absurd and laid bare one of the most acrimonious showbiz marriages of modern times. The trial, which televised in unsparing detail to a global audience of millions, offered a shot at redemption for the actor following his loss in a 2020 libel trial in London against The Sun newspaper. In that case Depp, 58, sued over labelled a “wife beater” but the allegations that emerged in the US were potentially even more damning and further raised the stakes for the two protagonists.
Heard alleged her ex-husband had beaten her regularly. Her ex- Johnny Depp who she said would fly into jealous rages while drunk or high on drugs. She claimed he sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle during a 2015 incident in Australia. The jury sided with Depp after deciding that Heard, 36, did defame him by claiming to be “a public figure representing domestic abuse” in a 2018 Washington Post column.
They apparently considered Heard’s harrowing claims of physical, sexual and psychological abuse unbelievable in a major rebuke of the actress, whose career now faces an uncertain future. Her $100 million counter suit, launched after Depp’s lawyer accused her of fabricating allegations of abuse, failed.
Depp’s army of online fans, who have subjected Heard to abuse throughout the trial, responded to the verdict with delight on social media. The jury’s decision may also be viewed as a blow to the #MeToo movement. While the jury was deliberating, Depp, a musician as well as an actor, had been in the UK performing on stage alongside Jeff Beck.
Each side used a parade of witnesses to make their case, with Depp and Heard each spending days giving evidence. Their relationship was portrayed as volatile. They married in 2015 but Heard filed for divorce after 15 months. Depp, who insisted he had never been violent with a woman, said he sued so he could defend his reputation, especially in the eyes of his two children, Lily-Rose, 23, and Jack, 20.
“It’s insane to hear heinous accusations of violence, sexual violence, that she’s attributed to me. That she’s accused me of,” Depp said during the trial’s closing stages.
“Horrible. Ridiculous, humiliating, ludicrous, painful, savage, unimaginably brutal, cruel, and all false. All false.”
Depp’s lawyers sought to portray Heard as a gold digger who had severe abandonment issues. It was Amber and not Depp who was the aggressor in the marriage, according to the actor’s legal team. Camille Vasquez, one of Depp’s lawyers, achieved viral fame and earned an army of online fans following her aggressive approach to her cross-examination of Heard.
She attacked Heard’s credibility and showed the jury pictures of the actress without visible injuries following incidents in which she claimed Depp had assaulted her. Vasquez addressed the alleged incident in Australia and dismissed Heard’s accusation of sexual assault. She said it was in fact Amber who had attacked Depp with a bottle, causing the actor to lose the tip of his finger.
“You’re the one who assaulted someone with a bottle in Australia, isn’t that right, Ms Heard?” Vasquez asked. “You weren’t scared of him at all, were you?”
“I didn’t assault Johnny in Australia. I didn’t assault Johnny ever,” Heard responded.
It was also Vasquez who pressed Heard on her failure to donate the $7 million divorce settlement from Depp to charity, as she had promised.
The actress insisted she would fulfil the pledge to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as soon as she freed of the expensive litigation instigated by Depp.
Kate Moss, a former partner of Depp, was a surprise witness. She said he had never been violent towards her and rumours he once pushed her down the stairs in Jamaica were nonsense. Numerous witnesses, from friends of Depp to those with no obvious incentive to pick a side, appeared in court to directly contradict Heard’s evidence.
Her legal team argued that Depp was the latest example of a powerful figure attempting to use their vast influence to silence a woman. His career woes were entirely self-inflicted and Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse played no part in his downfall, the trial told. “I know how many people will come out and say whatever for him,” Heard said about the witnesses who had challenged her testimony.
“That’s his power. That’s why I wrote the op-ed. I was speaking to that phenomenon.”
Heard, who has a one-year-old daughter, said that Depp had ruined her life and she received death threats on a daily basis.
Heard’s next film role is the Aqua Man sequel, which is due for release next year. Her career will now be closely watched to gauge the impact of the jury’s verdict.
Depp’s most recent movie, Minamata, was released earlier this year with little fanfare.
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