Johnny Depp's defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard reaches verdict

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Photo credit: JB Lacroix - Gallery Stock
Photo credit: JB Lacroix - Gallery Stock

A verdict has been announced in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's defamation trial.

On Wednesday (June 1), a Fairfax County, Virginia jury initially found no damages for either party, but were sent back into deliberation to award at least $1 to either side.

It was ultimately announced in court that jurors decided domestic abuse accusations made by Heard were "false, defamatory, and specifically referencing her relationship with Depp".

Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages as well as $5 million in punitive damages. The jury also ruled that Heard's counter-defamation suit against Depp had largely not been proven during the trial, yet she was given $2 million in compensatory damages due to Depp's lawyer calling her claims "a hoax" in The Daily Mail.

Photo credit: Consolidated News Pictures - Getty Images
Photo credit: Consolidated News Pictures - Getty Images

Heard said today in a statement: "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.

"I'm even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.

"I believe Johnny's attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.

"I'm sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly."

Photo credit: Karwai Tang - Getty Images
Photo credit: Karwai Tang - Getty Images

Heard's reference to a UK case involved Depp losing a legal battle against The Sun for the newspaper labeling him a "wife beater" because of Heard's allegations.

The defamation case began in late April, with much at stake as Depp was seeking $50 million in damages from his ex-wife over a column she wrote in The Washington Post in 2018 about alleged domestic violence in their marriage.

Heard subsequently counter-sued Deep seeking $100 million in damages, leading to a highly-publicised court showdown that has generated endless headlines for the media.

The Hollywood stars both took the witness stand throughout the trial to give testimony about how the demise of their relationship has impacted their professional lives.

Heard testified that negative publicity relating to Depp played a part in her appearance as Mera in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom being significantly cut down, in addition to losing an endorsement deal with L'Oreal.

Depp's former talent agent Christian Carino claimed on the witness stand that domestic violence allegations led to Disney's decision to drop Depp from a planned Pirates of the Caribbean 6 film.

Photo credit: Consolidated News Pictures - Getty Images
Photo credit: Consolidated News Pictures - Getty Images

Neither Disney or Warner Bros have responded to relevant allegations about casting of future Aquaman or Pirates of the Caribbean projects.

Depp and Heard were married for less than two years, after meeting on the set of 2011 film The Rum Diary. They got married in a civil ceremony held in February 2015.

Heard ultimately would file for divorce in May 2016 and obtained a restraining order against Depp. The Aquaman actress came forward at that time with accusations Depp had been "verbally and physically abusive".

Both stars have denied domestic violence accusations throughout their defamation trial.

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, organisations including Refuge (www.refuge.org.uk), The Mankind Initiative (www.mankind.org.uk) and Women's Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk) can provide further support and information. The 24-hour, freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247. The US National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or text LOVEIS to 22522.

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