With both sides accusing the other of repeated domestic abuse during an obviously tumultuous marriage, the defamation trial in Virginia between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has turned into a bitter battle over the truth about their marriage,
Lawyers questioned witnesses in front of a seven-member jury in Fairfax County Circuit Court about the circumstances leading up to what has been described as a whirlwind relationship. on a film set and devolved into a barrage of fights and physical confrontations — the details of which vary widely depending on the account.
Mr. Depp, 58, sued Ms. Heard, 35, for defamation following an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Ms. Heard subsequently countersued Mr. Depp, alleging that he defamed her when his former lawyer made remarks claiming her abuse allegations were a fake.
Numerous charges being made before the trial were previously heard in a British lawsuit — which Mr. Depp lost — in which the actor sued The Sun tabloid for printing a headline labelling him a “wife beater. “The trial, which began on April 12 with opening statements, is scheduled to run approximately six weeks.
Mr. Depp’s complaint, filed in 2019, is based on Ms. Heard’s 2018 op-ed,
“I spoke out against sexual violence—and faced our culture’s fury.” This must change. The op-ed does not identify Mr. Depp by name, but Ms. Heard writes in it that she became a “public figure symbolizing domestic abuse” two years prior to the article’s publication.
Ms. Heard was granted a temporary restraining order in 2016 after appearing in a California court with a battered face, claiming that Mr. Depp had hurled a phone at her face. (This is denied by the actor.)
Ms. Heard stated in her application that Mr. Depp was verbally and physically abusive to her during their relationship, including a recent episode in which he grabbed her by the hair and forcibly pushed her to the ground. (In court documents, Mr. Depp stated that this was a fabrication and that she was the one who punched him in the face that night.)
According to Mr. Depp’s lawsuit, Ms. Heard’s abuse allegations were a “elaborate fraud” that destroyed him both his career and good name. “Mr. Depp seeks to clear his name through this defamation action,” the actor’s lawsuit stated.
What did Ms. Heard’s Washington Post op-ed say?
According to the op-ed, she began to face backlash against her career after becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
“Friends and counsellors warned me that if I worked as an actress again, I would be blacklisted,” she wrote. “My character in a film to which I was attached was recast. I had recently completed a two-year campaign as the face of a major fashion brand when I was dumped by the firm.”
She said she saw “how institutions conceal suspected abusers in real time.” Ms. Heard was described in the op-ed as an American Civil Liberties Union ambassador for women’s rights, and in court documents, she stated that the A.C.L.U. suggested she write and submit the article.
When one of Ms. Heard’s attorneys, Ben Rottenborn, addressed the jury, he attempted to emphasize that, at the end of the day, the case boils down to “one piece of paper.” This opinion piece.
What is the reason for Ms. Heard’s lawsuit against Mr. Depp?
Ms. Heard’s countersuit against Mr. Depp, filed in 2020, is also being considered by the jury. Ms. Heard’s defamation suit is directed against Mr. Depp, but the words at issue come from his former attorney, Adam Waldman, who told the British newspaper The Daily Mail that the actress’s allegations were an “abuse fake.”
Mr. Depp allegedly “approved and collaborated” with Mr. Waldman, who was acting on behalf of the actor, to “try to ruin and discredit Ms. Heard in the press,” according to her lawsuit. (Mr. Waldman’s name was omitted from the list of defendants.)
What did Mr. Depp say during his deposition?
Mr. Depp has previously stated that he never struck Ms. Heard or any other woman. Rather than that, he implied that Ms. Heard was the one who instigated the arguments in the relationship, with heated tirades and “demeaning name-calling” that frequently escalated to physical violence.
“It may start with a slap, it could start with a shove, it could start with a TV remote being thrown at my head, or it could start with a glass of wine being thrown in my face,” Mr. Depp added.
The actor detailed multiple encounters at the center of the dispute, including one in 2015 in Australia while the pair was filming the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. Mr. Depp said that
Ms. Heard was enraged following a discussion with a lawyer regarding a potential postnuptial agreement and hurled a vodka handle against his hand, severely wounding his middle finger.
“I was looking directly at my bone sticking out since the tip of my finger had been severed,” he testified.
Mr. Rottenborn began his cross-examination of Mr. Depp on Thursday by presenting him with text messages he sent to others in which he used obscenities against Ms. Heard, including calling her a “worthless hooker.”
Who else is going to testify?
Especially noteworthy is Ms. Heard. According to one of her attorneys’ opening arguments, she is anticipated to present a whole different version of the relationship, including what occurred in Australia.
Mr. Depp’s lawyer, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, testified before the jury that he took off Ms. Heard’s nightgown and sexually abused her, while Ms. Heard testified in court papers that Mr. Depp hurt his fingers while shattering a phone “to smithereens” as he struck her. (Mr. Depp stated in court that he never assaulted Ms. Heard.)
The attorneys for Ms. Heard have produced a lengthy list of potential witnesses, which includes Elon Musk and James Franco. (Ms. Heard exchanged texts with Mr. Musk about her marriage that were cited as evidence in the British case, and she testified during that trial that Mr. Franco observed bruises on her face during an alleged altercation.)
Mr. Waldman, the executive director of the A.C.L.U., and friends of Ms. Heard who were present throughout important moments in the case are also possible witnesses. His attorneys have previously called a number of witnesses, including a sister who worked as a personal manager and a physician. Christi Dembrowski has long served as Depp’s personal manager
What actually transpired in the British case?
In 2020, a court determined that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Mr. Depp abused Ms. Heard repeatedly throughout their marriage and put her “in fear for her life. It appears that public discussion of the British trial in Virginia was restricted, but this was not published.
But these have not been publicized. Ms. Heard’s attorneys have been permitted to make reference to Mr. Depp’s testimony during the trial. Kipper, who stated that he treated the actor for opioid addiction; and Laurel Anderson, the couple’s marriage counsellor, who stated that the couple engaged in “mutual abuse.”
Published By – Supreeti Ghosh