Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist who testified for Amber Heard in Johnny Depp’s defamation trial with his ex-wife, said that he has suffered “horrific post-trial backflow” from reactions to his experience on the witness stand.
“Never in my life have I been the target of such voluminous amounts of hate, ever,” he wrote in a first-person piece posted Friday in Newsweek. “I will process the emotion, but it will always be there; the knowledge that I was on the receiving end of such venom.”
Spiegel said the online blowback got so intense that he was forced to shut down comments on his his WebMD page after Johnny Depp supporters review-bombed the site with negative comments. “My WebMD page has now been closed to comments, but if you looked at the site beforehand there were probably seven or eight reviews and all of a sudden on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24 there were hundreds, so it was pretty obvious what had happened,” Spiegel wrote.
“I’m an adult, it’s not the first time I’ve been criticized, but never like that,” he added. “On that Monday and Tuesday I had what I’d describe as an emotional concussion. It wasn’t physical, I didn’t get hit on the head, it was emotional because the feedback afterwards left me a little on the numb and dazed side.”
Spiegel, who had been hired by Heard’s legal team, testified that Depp’s behavior was “consistent with someone that both has substance use disorder as well as behaviors of someone who is a perpetrator of intimate partner violence.”
However, Depp’s lawyers grilled Spiegel on cross-examination on the fact that he had never evaluated Depp and suggested that his testimony was a violation of the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule that discourages psychiatrists from attempting to diagnose people who are not patients.
Following the backlash, Spiegel has gone offline and told his family to do the same — at least for a few weeks. “But it probably still is a little bit hurtful for them to see the attacks on me, and for the patients I’ve had relationships with for years,” he said.
Spiegel also said he was “disappointed” by the jury’s verdict siding with Depp, saying that Heard “should have received much more of an outpouring of support than she did.”
After a six-week trial of grueling, emotional and highly contradictory testimony a seven-person jury in Fairfax, Virginia, found that Heard had defamed her ex-husband a Washington Post op-ed by claiming that she had been the victim of domestic abuse.
Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages (although the judge in the case later capped Depp’s punitive damages at $350,000 in accordance with Virginia law). The jury also accepted one of Heard’s three defamation counterclaims for a statement made by Depp’s former lawyer — and awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages.