Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in the Fairfax, Virginia, courtroom during the trial. Photos by Jim Watson/Pool photos via AP
A jury in Virginia has decided actor Johnny Depp was defamed by Amber Heard. The decision comes after the jury heard six weeks of testimony and evidence in the multimillion-dollar defamation trial between Depp and Heard, his ex-wife.The jury decided Amber Heard’s statement in her Washington Post op-ed was false and defamatory, and that Heard intended to defame Depp. The jury said Depp proved that Heard acted “with actual malice.”
Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.
The jury also decided that Depp proved all the elements of defamation, and is owed $15 million in damages. The jury was also tasked with determining whether Depp defamed Heard based on three statements. According to the jury, only one statement was defamatory against Heard, and it said she should be awarded $2 million in damages. Heard was in the Virginia courthouse on Wednesday, while Depp was not. Depp was watching from the UK, according to reports. In a public statement posted on her Instagram account, Heard said the “disappointment I feel 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,” Heard said. “I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women.”She added that she feels she’s lost the right to her freedom of speech. Meanwhile Depp said in an Instagram post he feels “at peace.” He called Heard’s allegations “false” and said they “triggered an endless barrage of hateful content,” which had a “seismic impact” on his life and career.“Six years later, the jury gave me my life back,” Depp said. Heard was in the Virginia courthouse on Wednesday, while Depp was not. Depp was watching from the UK, according to reports.
As the Depp legal team left the courthouse, a swarm of Depp fans cheered. Republican politicians also seemingly weighed in, with the house judiciary tweeting out a GIF of Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.Depp launched the $50 million defamation suit against Heard in response to a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that Heard wrote about her experiences with domestic assault. The piece didn’t name Depp, but the Oscar-nominated actor maintains it’s “plainly” about him and that it cost him his career. Heard is countersuing Depp for $100 million in damages in response to public statements one of Depp’s lawyer made that referred to her allegations as “fake” and a “hoax,” which the jury also had to deliberate.Both Heard and Depp accused the other of being abusive while maintaining their own innocence.For six weeks, the court heard harrowing allegations of abuse from both actors, who produced images, audio recordings, former love letters, and private text messages to make their cases. In one string of texts, Depp said he wanted to “burn” Heard and that he would “fuck her burnt corpse” to “make sure she is dead.” In an audio recording played repeatedly for the jury, Heard tells Depp that she “hit” him, but didn’t “punch” him. “I did not fucking deck you,” she says in the audio. Pictures of Heard with a bruised and swollen face, and hair ripped out of her scalp, accompany several allegations of abuse she says she experienced at the hands of Depp. The court also saw an image of Depp’s bruised face, which he alleges appeared after she struck him. Depp says Heard cut off the tip of his finger during the infamous Australia fight. (At the time, he told people he did it himself.) It was during that fight that Heard says Depp repeatedly threw glass and penetrated her with a bottle. She told the court Depp held a broken bottle to her jaw and told her he’d “carve up” her face. Heard made more than a dozen allegations of physical and sexual abuse. The couple started dating in 2012 and divorced in 2016 after about 18 months of marriage. The breakdown of their relationship has been on and off in the spotlight ever since, and evidence presented in court reveals a tumultuous and strained relationship. A court in the UK previously determined that Depp likely abused Heard. The latest trial has been livestreamed for millions of viewers and has turned into a dystopian source of entertainment. Content creators have made memes about it to gain followers and clout, and at least one major right-wing site paid thousands for pro-Depp content. Online commentary has overwhelmingly skewed in favor of Depp and a lot of it is violent. The vitriol targeting Heard specifically has been so bad that experts noted that regardless of the outcome in court, she’s already stuck with long-lasting public abuse and humiliation.
Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.