Following an extensive trial based on highly contested charges of domestic violence, a US jury found both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard guilty for defamation on Wednesday, but sided more strongly with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor.
The decision 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 assault” was slanderous to Depp, a seven-member jury in Virginia awarded the 58-year-old actor $15 million in damages.
Heard listened impassively as the decision was read out in Fairfax court, in the US capital — and afterwards professed herself “heartbroken” and “beyond words” devastated by the outcome.
Meanwhile, Depp, who was watching the proceedings from the UK, wrote on Instagram that the jury “given me my life back.”
Heard defined herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” in an op-ed for media, 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 remarks made by Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, who told the media that her abuse allegations were a “hoax.”
The jury agreed that such words defamed Heard and awarded her damages, but at a much smaller sum of $2 million.
Heard described the decision as a “setback” for women.
“The disappointment I’m experiencing now is indescribable. I’m heartbroken that the amount of evidence was insufficient to overcome my ex-excessive husband’s power, influence, and sway “In a statement, she added.
“I’m even more dissatisfied with the implications of this decision for other women. It’s a stumbling block… It rebuts the notion that women’s violence should be regarded seriously “she stated
A small crowd of bystanders and Depp fans gathered outside to await the decision, one guy wearing a “”No matter what happens today, Johnny, you are a winner!!!” says a lady wearing a pirate hat and holding a banner that reads, “No matter what happens today, Johnny, you are a winner!!! And the entire world is aware of the TRUTH!!!”
Hundreds of supporters of the “Pirates” actor attended the broadcast trial, which was supported by a #JusticeForJohnnyDepp social media campaign. Depp and Heard both spent days on the witness stand throughout the televised trial.
The jury was shown images of injuries purportedly sustained by Heard throughout 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 aggressive, and that listening to “outlandish” allegations of domestic violence leveled against him was “brutal.”
In May 2016, Heard, who was married to Depp from 2015 until 2017, got a restraining order against him, claiming domestic abuse.
Depp, a three-time Oscar nominee, sued the British newspaper The Sun for branding him a “wife-beater” in a libel action filed in London. In November 2020, he was found guilty in the case.
Both parties have alleged that their Hollywood careers have been harmed.