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Depp wins bonkers trial for defamation against ‘abused’ ex Amber Heard

By ELIZABETH ROSNER in Fairfax, Va., and BEN KESSLEN in New York

Actor Johnny Depp (on stage in London Tuesday night) won most of his lengthy defamation battle yesterday against Amber Heard, who had accused him of being abusive. The riveting trial featured testimony by supermodels, celebrity gossip, a bed spoiled by human feces and other shocking twists.

Johnny Depp won his bombshell defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard on Wednesday, with a Virginia jury awarding him more than $10 million in finding that his ex-wife sullied his reputation and damaged his career with her claims of domestic abuse.

The seven Fairfax jurors ruled in Depp’s favor on all three of his claims related to a Washington Post op-ed Heard wrote about becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse” following the couple’s split.

The verdict, coming after some 13 hours of deliberations, capped a six-week trial filled with allegations of abuse on both sides, sensational claims and gory details, including about a fight that ended with Depp losing part of his finger and accusations Heard or her friends defecated in the couple’s bed.

As the panel’s decision was read, Heard looked somber and gazed down, wearing a black dress and a gold necklace.

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” she said in a statement. “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.”

Still, in what might come as

cold comfort to the “Aquaman” star, the jury found that Heard was defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers, who accused her of plotting an elaborate hoax. She was awarded $2 million in damages as part of her countersuit.

Awarded damages

Meanwhile, jurors awarded the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. But because Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000, Depp could stand to receive a total $10.35 million barring reductions on appeal.

The actor, who was in the UK when the verdict came down, said in a statement: “The jury gave me my life back. 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.”

Depp, 58, had sued Heard, 36, for $50 million over her 2018 essay in which she wrote about facing “our culture’s wrath” for speaking out against a powerful man — a warning that seemingly became more prescient with the jury’s decision.

The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyers argued it defamed him nonetheless because it was a clear reference to Heard’s allegations of abuse at the time of their 2016 divorce.

Heard said the verdict will ultimately hurt other women.

“It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated,” she said. “It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.

“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.”

In weighing Heard’s $100 million counterclaim against Depp, the jury considered three statements by the actor’s lawyer Adam Waldman, who called her allegations a hoax.

They found that Waldman defamed her when he claimed that Heard and her pals “spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight” when the police responded to a domestic-disturbance call at the couple’s apartment in 2016.

Heard filed for a temporary restraining order against the actor following that May 2016 incident, after less than two years of marriage, as she petitioned a Los Angeles court for a divorce. Depp then sued UK newspaper The Sun two years later over an article that called him a “wife beater” but lost that case in 2020 after the court found the claim to be “substantially true.”

Brushes with famous

Over the course of the Virginia trial, the actor’s lawyers went to lengths to prove that Depp — not Heard — was the victim of domestic abuse.

Depp’s team also called a slew of witnesses to discuss the reputational damage he suffered as a result of Heard’s essay, including one who said the actor was “canceled” and no longer desirable to family-friendly companies like Disney.

Early in his testimony, Depp had told the jury he brought the lawsuit against the actress for defamation to “clear my name.”

Heard, meanwhile, recounted harrowing moments in which the beloved star allegedly attacked her, including once sexually assaulting her with a liquor bottle. Her team produced scores of photos of the actress’ bruises and injuries from alleged fights with Depp.

But he repeatedly denied the accusations, and his team claimed the bruises were faked, painted on and digitally manipulated.

“Never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck any woman in my life,” he insisted.

Notably, the jury heard from two of Depp’s famous exes, Ellen Barkin and Kate Moss.

Barkin was called by Heard’s team and testified that Depp was a “jealous” man who drank all the time and once hurled a wine bottle in her direction.

Moss, meanwhile, testified on Depp’s behalf via video from England, telling the jury: “He never pushed me, kicked me, or threw me down any stairs.”





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