The jury found that Mr. Depp was defamed by Ms. Heard when she described herself in an op-ed as a “public figure representing domestic abuse,” but also that she had been defamed by one of his lawyers.
Here’s what you need to know:
Johnny Depp says Virginia jury ‘gave me my life back.’
Amber Heard testified that Mr. Depp sexually assaulted her and engaged in a ‘pattern’ of violence.
Johnny Depp portrayed Ms. Heard as the aggressor in his testimony.
The two sides clashed over what caused the damage to Mr. Depp’s career.
A judge in Britain found in 2020 that Mr. Depp had assaulted Ms. Heard and put her ‘in fear of her life.’
A jury in Virginia on Wednesday found that the actor Johnny Depp had been defamed by his ex-wife Amber Heard in a 2018 op-ed, a verdict that handed the actor a victory in his long, messy battle over domestic abuse allegations.
But the jury’s decision was split, also finding that one of the three statements at the center of Ms. Heard’s lawsuit, by one of Mr. Depp’s lawyers at the time, had been defamatory.
The jury awarded Mr. Depp $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages, but the judge capped the punitive damages total in accordance with legal limits, resulting in a total of $10.35 million. The jury awarded Ms. Heard $2 million in damages.
The jury’s decision came after a six-week trial that transfixed the nation, with millions of people watching it on television or streaming it online as the two major Hollywood stars made charges and countercharges of physical abuse against one another in court, sometimes in lurid detail. It was one of the highest-profile civil cases of the #MeToo era to go to trial.
Mr. Depp fiercely denied Ms. Heard’s accusations that he subjected her to repeated physical abuse that included punching, head-butting and dragging by the hair, as well as several instances of sexual assault.
“It’s insane to hear heinous accusations of violence — sexual violence — that she’s attributed to me,” Mr. Depp testified. “I don’t think anyone enjoys having to split themselves open and tell the truth, but there are times when one just simply has to because it’s gotten out of control.”
Mr. Depp’s lawsuit accused Ms. Heard of defaming him in a Washington Post op-ed in which she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” and said she witnessed “how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
The article, which was spearheaded and prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union, never mentioned Mr. Depp by name, but he argued that it clearly referred to their marriage, which began in 2015 and fell apart just over a year later.
Ms. Heard, 36, maintained throughout the trial that everything written in the op-ed was true and that she was the one who was defamed when, in 2020, a lawyer representing Mr. Depp, 58, made statements to a British tabloid calling her abuse accusations a “hoax.” She sued Mr. Depp for those statements, arguing that the lawyer was acting as his agent. But as part of its decision on Tuesday, the jury declined to find that her ex-husband had defamed her.
The win for Mr. Depp, who denies ever hitting Ms. Heard or any other woman, is at odds with a legal loss in Britain, where Mr. Depp had sued the publishers of The Sun, a tabloid newspaper, in 2020. The Sun had called him a “wife-beater” in a headline, and the case ended with a ruling by a judge, Andrew Nicol, who found there was evidence he had assaulted Ms. Heard.
Monica has a BA in Journalism and English from the University of Massachusetts and an MS in Journalism and Communications from Quinnipiac University. Monica has worked as a journalist for over 20 years covering all things entertainment. She has covered everything from San Diego Comic-Con, The SAG Awards, Academy Awards, and more. Monica has been published in Variety, Swagger Magazine, Emmy Magazine, CNN, AP, Hidden Remote, and more. For the past 10 years, she has added PR and marketing to her list of talents as the president of Prime Entertainment Publicity, LLC. Monica is ready for anything and is proudly obsessed with pop culture.