Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed, a Virginia jury determined Wednesday afternoon.
The seven-person jury decided to award the “Edward Scissorhands” star a total of $15 million in damages after deliberating for about 13 hours.
The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. However, Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000. This means Depp will receive a maximum of $10.35 million after he pays an admittedly “shamed and humiliated” Heard the $2 million in compensatory defamation damages she was awarded.
The jury declared Heard “acted with actual malice” when she penned her now-infamous op-ed, titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
Heard initially filed for divorce from Depp in May 2016, and accused him of domestic violence days later when she requested a temporary restraining order.
The star did not pen her WaPo piece — in her role as “ambassador on women’s rights at the American Civil Liberties Union” — until December 2018, more than two-and-a-half years later.
In the op-ed, Heard, 36, claimed that she was a victim of abuse — but did not explicitly name Depp, 58, as a perpetrator.
Instead, she wrote that over the past “two years” she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse” and that she feared being “blacklisted” in Hollywood.
“I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse,” Heard wrote, adding that she felt “on trial in the court of public opinion.”
Depp’s lawyers asserted that Heard was obviously implicating him as an abuser in the op-ed and claimed that it significantly damaged his reputation and cost him lucrative movie roles — including a $22.5 million deal to star in a sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
During the trial, however, Heard vigorously maintained that her piece was not about her ex-husband, saying on the stand: “It’s not about Johnny. The only one who thought it was about Johnny is Johnny.”
She further insisted: “It’s about me. It’s about what happened to me after Johnny. It’s about what happened to me after I escaped my marriage. It’s about me and my life and what I endured once I moved on and got a TRO [temporary restraining order] and moved on with my life. It was about what happened to me after.”
The jury disagreed.
Although the jury determined Depp was defamed, the $15 million they chose to award him fell far short of the $50 million in damages that he was seeking.
Still, Depp released a statement to The Post saying he felt victorious and has long claimed that he had never been abusive toward Heard. Instead, he claimed that she was the abuser in their turbulent relationship.
“The jury gave me my life back,” Depp triumphantly declared. “Six years ago [in 2016, when Heard first accused him of abuse], 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 in me were forever changed,” he said.
“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,” he added. “It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” the “Sleepy Hollow” star further declared. “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.”
Meanwhile, Heard appeared visibly devastated as she sat in the courtroom and listened to the jury’s 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 in a statement received by The Post after the verdict. “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 summed up the verdict differently: “And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
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