A jury has found both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp liable for defamation in their lawsuits against each other.
Depp sued Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Depp was not named in the article, he claims it cost him lucrative acting roles. Heard countersued her ex-husband for defamation over statements Depp’s attorney made about her abuse claims.
Weighing the claims, a jury found that both of the exes defamed each other.
The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages and no money for punitive damages.
Depp sought $50 million in damages and Heard sought $100 million. Punitive damages in the state of Virginia are capped at $350,000, so the judge reduced the punitive damages award to that amount.
Heard kept her eyes down as the verdict was read. Depp was not present in court, but released a statement that said, in part, “the jury gave me my life back.”
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me,” he said. “I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
He added: “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.”
Heard said in a statement she is “heartbroken” over the verdict.
“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 said.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women,” she continued. “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,” Heard said. “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.”
Depp and Heard met in 2009 on the set of their film “The Rum Diary” and were married from 2015-2016 before divorcing.
In her testimony, Heard said that Depp was verbally and physically abusive during their relationship. She also accused Depp of sexual violence.
Depp claimed multiple times on the stand that he has never struck a woman, denied Heard’s allegation of sexual battery and called himself a victim of domestic abuse by Heard, which she denies.
Attorneys for both Heard and Depp presented during the trial photographs and audio and video recordings to make their cases. One expert, Laurel Anderson, a clinical psychologist who worked with Depp and Heard in 2015 as their marriage counselor, said in testimony played on April 14 that the pair’s relationship had what she characterized as “mutual abuse.”
During the trial, Depp’s team presented witnesses that included model Kate Moss, with whom he had a relationship previously, and Walter Hamada, the head of DC Films.
Actress Ellen Barkin and a number of former Depp associates testified on Heard’s behalf.
Heard had notably fewer vocal supporters than Depp in the entertainment business and in and around the courthouse.