Following an extensive trial based on highly contested charges of domestic abuse, a US jury held both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard guilty for defamation — but sided more strongly with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star.
The verdict came at the end of a six-week trial that was based on lurid charges and counterclaims between the Hollywood stars.
After determining that a 2018 essay written by Heard about her encounter with “sexual violence” was slanderous to Depp, a seven-member jury in Virginia awarded the 58-year-old actor $15 million in damages.
Heard sat impassively as the judgement was read out in Fairfax court, in the US capital, her eyes downcast the entire time – and afterwards professed herself “heartbroken” and “beyond words” saddened by the outcome.
Meanwhile, Depp, who was watching the proceedings from the UK, wrote on Instagram that the jury “gave me my life back.”
Heard defined herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” in an op-ed for The Washington Post, and despite the fact that she did not identify Depp in the essay, he sued her for indicating he was an abuser, asking $50 million in damages.
Heard, 36, who starred in “Aquaman,” countersued for $100 million, claiming she was defamed by statements made by Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, who told the Daily Mail that her abuse allegations were a “hoax.”
The jury agreed that the words defamed Heard and awarded her damages — but at a far smaller amount of $2 million.
Heard described the decision as a “setback” for women.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. 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 in a statement.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback… It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously,” she said.
A small crowd of observers and Depp supporters gathered outside for the announcement, including one man wearing a “Jack Sparrow” pirate hat and a woman holding a banner that read: “No matter what happens today, Johnny, you are a winner!!!” And the entire world is aware of the TRUTH!!!”
During the trial, dozens of witnesses, including bodyguards, Hollywood executives, agents, entertainment business specialists, doctors, friends, and family, testified.
Hundreds of supporters of the “Pirates” actor attended the broadcast trial, which was supported by a #JusticeForJohnnyDepp social media campaign. Depp and Heard each spent days on the witness stand throughout the televised trial.
The jury was shown images of injuries purportedly sustained by Heard during their tumultuous relationship, as well as video and audio recordings of their intense, profanity-laced disputes.
Depp said that Heard was the one who was frequently violent, and that listening to “outlandish” allegations of domestic abuse leveled against him was “brutal.”
In May 2016, Heard, who was married to Depp from 2015 until 2017, got a restraining order against him, citing domestic violence.
Depp, a three-time Oscar nominee, sued the British tabloid The Sun for branding him a “wife-beater” in a libel suit filed in London. In November 2020, he was found guilty in that case.
Both sides have alleged that their Hollywood careers have been harmed.