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The jury has returned a verdict in favor of Johnny Depp in his $50-million defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The jury ruled that Heard defamed Depp with malicious intent in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed claiming that she was a victim of domestic abuse.
Depp was awarded $15-million in total – $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages, ruling that Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman defamed her when he called her abuse claims “a hoax” in a British newspaper.
Depp, who is out touring, did not appear in the courtroom for the verdict. Heard, however, was in attendance and appeared stoic as the verdict was read.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” Amber Heard said in a statement following the verdict. “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 am 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,” Heard continued.
“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,” the statement concluded.
Depp also released his own statement: “Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed me were forever changed. All in the blink of an eye,” he wrote.
“False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already travelled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career,” he continued.
“And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.
“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. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, appeared outside the courthouse to thank the jury and said the verdict confirms that “the claims against Johnny Depp are defamatory and unsupported by any evidence”.
“We are… so grateful to the jury for their careful deliberation,” she told reporters.
Another Depp attorney, Benjamin Chew, said his team was “most pleased that the trial has resonated for so many people in the public who value truth and justice”.
“Now that the jury has reached its conclusive verdict, it’s time to turn the page and look to the future,” he added.
Despite testimony at the trial that he could be violent, abusive and out of control, Depp received a standing ovation Tuesday night in London after performing for about 40 minutes with Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall. He has previously toured with Joe Perry and Alice Cooper as the group Hollywood Vampires.
The trial, which took place over six weeks, saw the actors and ex-spouses competing through their legal teams to paint the other as an aggressive abuser in their relationship, all while maintaining they were the real victim.
Depp, 58, sued Heard, 36, for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Even though Heard never named Depp in the article, his lawyers still claimed it had devastating effects on his career, reputation and personal life.
“Your presence shows where your priorities are,” said a spokesperson for Heard. “Johnny Depp plays guitar in the UK while Amber Heard waits for a verdict in Virginia. Depp is taking his snickering and lack of seriousness on tour.”
In their closing statements on May 27, both teams pressed the jury to find a verdict in their favour.
Team Depp insisted Heard lied both in public and in her testimony, claiming she created a false narrative that made Depp look like an alcoholic, drug-addicted “monster.” In his testimony, Depp said he had never had any substance abuse issues (with the exception of Roxicodone, which he claims he is no longer addicted to).
He claimed throughout that he has never hit a woman in his life.
During the trial, jurors heard several graphic descriptions of alleged assault from both parties, including a now-infamous claim from Depp that Heard severed the tip of his finger with a glass bottle.
Heard’s version of the story held that while she could not say for certain how Depp lost the digit, she was a victim of numerous assaults at his hand, including an alleged sexual assault.
Depp’s lawyers claimed Heard’s accounts of violent physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse were all fictitious and for personal financial and career gain.
Camille Vasquez, a lawyer for Depp, told the jury in their closing statements that Heard did not just want a divorce from Depp in 2016, she wanted to ruin him.
Another Depp lawyer, Benjamin Chew, told the jury before deliberation that Depp “did not and does not deserve to have his life, his legacy, destroyed by some lie.”
Alternatively, Heard’s lawyers insisted Depp filed this lawsuit as part of a “smear campaign” to ruin Heard’s reputation and career while disputing her claims of domestic violence against him.
They insisted the Washington Post article was “not a hit piece on Johnny Depp,” also calling the actions of his team “disgusting” and “victim blaming.”
“Mr. Depp can simply not prove to you that he never abused Amber,” Heard’s lawyers told the jury.
Both Depp and Heard testified numerous times throughout the trial. The actors separately insisted the legal process has been emotional and embarrassing to undergo on such a public level.
Depp originally sued Heard for USD$50 million in damages. Heard countersued her ex for $100 million.