In a lengthy statement shared to Heard’s social media account on Monday, the Aquaman actor confirmed she made the “very difficult decision” to settle the defamation suit with Depp.
“It’s important for me to say that I never chose this,” Heard, 36, wrote. “I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed.”
In June, Heard lost a high-profile defamation suit against Depp, 59. He sued his ex-wife over a Washington Post op-ed in which she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
A seven-person jury in Fairfax, Va., ruled in favour of Depp and awarded the actor US$10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (which was later reduced to $350,000, the maximum allowed by the state).
Heard was awarded $2 million in a favourable ruling on one of her three countersuit claims. In the countersuit, Heard and her lawyers alleged Depp was “vicariously liable” for three statements made by the actor’s former lawyer, Adam Waldman, to British tabloid The Daily Mail.
Heard and Depp divorced in 2016 after a tumultuous marriage. Both spouses claimed to be victims of domestic abuse.
Rolling Stone reported Depp will receive a $1-million payout from Heard’s insurance company.
The outlet was also sent a statement from Depp’s lawyers, Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez.
“We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light,” wrote Depp’s lawyers. “The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1 (million) — which Mr. Depp is pledging and will donate to charities — reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”
Alternatively, Heard’s statement made it clear she did not believe justice had been served.
“I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession,” Heard clarified. “There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”
Heard said the settlement, though not ideal, will provide her “an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to.”
In November, Depp launched an appeal of Heard’s single countersuit win. Later that same month, Heard submitted her own appeal that asked for Depp’s $10-million verdict to be reversed or disregarded for a new trial.
In her statement, Heard claimed the “vilification” of her on social media “is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimized.”
“I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder,” she wrote.
Heard made mention of the U.K. trial between Depp and British tabloid The Sun that pre-dated the Virginia defamation case. Depp sued the paper after an article was published calling him a “wife beater.” He lost the trial when a U.K. judge decided The Sun’s claims were “substantially true.”
Heard testified in court to back The Sun’s claims.
“When I stood before a judge in the UK, I was vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media, and where the court found I was subjected to domestic and sexual violence,” Heard continued.
“In the US, however, I exhausted almost all of my resources in advance of and during a trial in which I was subjected to a courtroom in which abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process.”
Heard wrote that she was “exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-live.”
She concluded by thanking her legal teams and supporters.
“Any survivor knows that the ability to tell their story often feels like the only relief, and I cannot find enough words to tell you the hope your belief in me inspires, not just for me, but for all of you,” she said.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of intimate partner violence or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.