In a closely watched six-week trial that contained raw and graphic evidence and testimony revealing the former Hollywood couple’s strained relationship, a Virginia jury concluded on Wednesday that actress Amber Heard defamed ex-husband Johnny Depp.
A jury determined Wednesday that Amber Heard was liable for defaming Johnny Depp in an op-ed published in the Washington Post. Depp was awarded $15 million in damages by the jury.
Heard also won a portion of her counter-suit against Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, who termed her assault charges a hoax. She was granted $2 million in damages by the jury.
Depp, the 58-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor, sued Heard for $50 million, claiming that she defamed him in a newspaper opinion article when she dubbed herself “a public figure symbolizing domestic abuse.”
Heard, 36, had countersued for $100 million.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” Heard, who remained stoic in the courtroom as the decision was read, said.
“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’m 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.
”I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.
”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 has denied beating Heard or any other woman, claiming that she was the one who made their relationship violent.
“The jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled,” Depp said in a statement released by a spokesperson.
“My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought,” Depp’s statement read. “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.”
“The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun,” he added, ending with Latin phrase “Veritas numquam perit. Truth never perishes.”
As the judgments were read, Heard, who was sat in the courtroom between two of her lawyers, looked down.
The jury informed Judge Penney Azcarate that they had reached a decision early in the afternoon, but the verdict was not read until the amount of monetary rewards on the jury form had been filled in.
According to CBS News legal analyst Jessica Levinson, the jury weighed each of the six remarks separately and carefully considered the defamation accusations.
“It wasn’t just a case of, ‘We like Johnny Depp, we don’t like Amber Heard,'” she said, noting that Depp won on all three statements in his suit and Heard won on one of the three in her counterclaim.