In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Today show on Thursday, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft claimed that Depp and his legal team were successfully able to suppress “an enormous amount of evidence” that would have been beneficial to Heard in the trial.
On Wednesday, a jury in Fairfax, Va., ruled in favour of Depp, 58, deciding he had in fact been defamed by Heard, 36, on three counts, awarding him USD$15-million in damages. This amount was later reduced by the judge to $10.35-million.
Heard was also awarded a partial win, receiving $2-million on a claim that Depp’s former lawyer and press agent defamed her when he called her domestic abuse allegations against the Pirates of the Caribbean actor “an abuse hoax” designed to capitalize on the #MeToo movement.
Depp was not present in court when the verdict was read by the jury. Heard appeared in court alongside her legal team.
Bredehoft told the Today show the first thing Heard said after receiving the verdict was how “sorry” she was.
“One of the first things she said is, ‘I am so sorry to all those women out there. This is a setback for all women in and outside the courtroom.’ She feels the burden of that,” Bredehoft said.
Bredehoft also highlighted that Depp had already presented this defamation trial in 2020 in the U.K., a case he lost when the London High Court ruled that in 12 different instances Depp was a perpetrator of domestic violence against Heard.
Heard’s lawyer claimed they were not allowed to inform the Virginia jury of the U.K. verdict.
Bredehoft said because of the U.K. trial, Depp and his lawyers took an alternative approach in the U.S., deciding this time to “demonize Amber and suppress the evidence.” This evidence, Bredehoft said, included medical records from Heard’s therapist that allegedly detailed a pattern of abuse going back to 2012, and a “significant amount of texts” from Depp and his employees admitting abuse against Heard.
She claimed one of the texts from Depp’s assistant that she was unable to present in court explained that when Depp learned he had “kicked” Heard, he cried and was apologetic.
“A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused,” Bredehoft added.
She confirmed that Heard would be appealing the verdict from this trial, adding that she “has some excellent grounds for it.” She said Heard is “absolutely not” able to pay the $10-million judgment.
She also spoke about the influence of social media on the trial, as the majority of discourse online was vehemently against Heard.
Since the seven-member jury in this trial was not sequestered, Bredehoft seemed confident they must have seen conversations about the trial online and possibly even had some in their real-life relationships.
“There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it, and it was horrible. It really, really was lopsided,” she said of the public’s reaction.
Bredehoft concluded by saying this trial sends a “horrible message” to domestic abuse survivors in the U.S.
“Unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively, you won’t be believed,” she said.
The lawsuit put forward by Depp revolved around a December 2018 op-ed Heard wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
His lawyers say Depp’s life and career were devastated by the article, which didn’t say his name.
Depp sued Heard for $50-million, while she filed a counterclaim for $100-million.
In their verdict, the Fairfax County Circuit Court jury sided with Depp, believing he did not abuse Heard. The decision also indicates that Heard defamed Depp in the op-ed “with malice,” or knowing intent of a false claim.
In the closing statements from Depp’s legal team, one of his lawyers, Camille Vasquez, told the jury that Heard had “falsely told the world she was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Mr. Depp.”
“What is at stake in this trial is a man’s good name,” Vasquez said, adding Depp’s life is also at stake in the trial.
Vasquez called Heard “incredibly aggressive, violent and cruel.” She also insisted Depp experienced “persistent and aggressive” abuse at the hands of his ex-wife.
Post-verdict, 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.