Taryn Ryder, Yahoo News
The verdict is in — and it’s a big win for Johnny Depp. After three days of deliberations, the jury determined Amber Heard made defamatory statements about the Pirates of the Caribbean star when she wrote an op-ed about surviving sexual and domestic violence. Heard, who countersued for defamation, won just one of three counterclaims against the actor. Each accused the other of abuse and destroying their career.
Heard, dressed in all black, was in court when the verdict was announced while Depp was in the U.K. She kept her eyes down and appeared stoic as it was read.
“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,” Heard tells Yahoo Entertainment in a statement.
“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,” she continues. “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 U.K. 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.”
For six weeks, the jury, comprising five men and two women, heard testimony from witnesses, including Depp and the Aquaman star, who painted two completely different pictures of their tumultuous relationship. Although this was a defamation case, the issue at the center of it all was whether Depp abused Heard at any point, even once, during their four years together. It seems the jury doesn’t believe he did.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post describing herself as a survivor of abuse. Specifically, there were three parts of the article that the Pirates of the Caribbean star claimed to be defamatory, and he won all of them:
Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” (The title of the online article.)
“Then, two years ago, I became public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
“I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Depp was awarded $15 million: $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million punitive. However, punitive damages in Virginia are capped at $350K, so Depp is awarded $10.35M in total.
Heard countersued for $100 million claiming Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman, while acting on behalf of her ex-husband, made defamatory claims about her. Heard sued over three specific statements Waldman made to the press. She won on the second statement:
Amber Heard and her friends in the media use fake sexual violence allegations as both a sword and shield, depending on their needs. They have selected some of her sexual violence hoax ‘facts’ as the sword, inflicting them on the public and Mr. Depp.
Quite simply this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops but the first attempt didn’t do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property. So Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then placed a second call to 911.
[We] have reached the beginning of the end of Ms. Heard’s abuse hoax against Johnny Depp.
Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and received no money for punitive damages.
Depp issued the below statement after Wednesday’s victory:
I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world. I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.
I wish to acknowledge the noble work of the Judge, the jurors, the court staff and the Sheriffs who have sacrificed their own time to get to this point, and to my diligent and unwavering legal team who did an extraordinary job in helping me to share the truth.
The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun.
Veritas numquam perit.
Truth never perishes.