In the case that’s shaking the nation, fans watch as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard battle in court over the defamation of Depp and the accusations of domestic abuse from both parties. Long after filing his suit against Heard in 2019, Depp took to the stand to tell his side of the story. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for an op-ed by Heard in the Washington Post, where she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Days after the publication of the article, Depp was dropped by Disney even though he was never identified in the op-ed by name. Once Depp filed for defamation, Heard filed a countersuit of $100 million for defamation. Now the world watches as the long trial in Fairfax, Virginia, proceeds and waits for the court to reveal who is the liar and who is telling truth.
Depp and Heard met on the set of 2009’s “The Rum Diary,” in which Depp played Paul Kemp, a journalist who works in Puerto Rico, and Heard played his love interest, Chenault. Depp was still in a relationship with Vanessa Paradis at the time, but following their separation in 2012, Depp began dating Heard, and they were married in 2015. After just 15 months of marriage, the couple filed for divorce. Heard obtained a restraining order temporarily against Depp, alleging that the actor, while under the influence, abused her throughout the relationship. Depp settled with Heard for $7 million after denying the accusations. Heard publicly stated she would donate the settlement to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. According to Depp, however, the hospital reached out to Depp’s business advisor to reveal that Heard did not donate the money. After Heard’s op-ed fueled the start of the case, the ex-couple finally had the opportunity to share their sides of the story when the trial began on April 12.
The Opening Statements
Depp’s attorney, Benjamin Chew, began the trial by reminding the courtroom of the success and happiness that was once associated with the name Johnny Depp. Now, however, “His name is associated with a lie. A false statement uttered by his former wife.” Chew noted that Depp has been accused of being a man who would abuse women, when according to the plaintiff, Depp wanted a divorce from Heard for the abuse he himself endured. Chew continued to explain that after Depp asked for a divorce, Heard and her legal team threatened Depp with claims of abuse if he did not meet her financial demands; six days later, she was at the courthouse to file a restraining order for alleged abuse. He stated that the witnesses will testify that they saw Heard without any marks or injuries leading up to the restraining order. He ended his statement by telling the courtroom to make their own judgment on Depp and the evidence presented.
Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, then made her statement to the courtroom. She described the evidence as “overwhelming and compelling.” She told the courtroom of the numerous photographs taken by Heard and friends that an IT specialist would verify. She explained the footage and audio recordings of the alleged abuse she faced from Depp. Bredehoft also included the list of drugs that Depp was reportedly taking at the time. She accused him of engaging in “verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse” while under the influence.
While stuttering, Bredehoft went through the stories the courtroom would hear about the abuse Heard faced during the marriage. To explain Heard’s lack of visible bruises, Bredehoft showed the courtroom a Milani Cosmetics color correcting palette that she reportedly carried with her every day throughout the marriage — although, in a twist, Milani has made a statement that the palette presented in court was not released to the market until 2017, the year after Depp and Heard’s divorce. She ended her statement by showing three statements made by Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, that described Heard’s allegations against Depp as a hoax.
The first witness to take the stand was Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski. Dembrowski described Depp as a shy little boy with a very caring personality who loved to play tricks on them. However, when describing their parents, she characterized their mom as an angry woman that would cause them to run and hide. She stated that they would have to pick their own stick off a tree — something “nice and green” — which their mother would use to hit them. She stated that Depp never hit his mother back and would often opt to exit the situation. When asked about Heard, Dembrowski stated that she called him “an old, fat man” and said that he was much sadder during this time.
The second witness was Issac Baruch, who explained that he did not witness any physical abuse from Depp or any physical bruising or marks on Heard throughout their relationship. When asked if he had ever witnessed Depp partake in drugs or alcohol, he responded: “Oh yeah, I’ve partaken.” Baruch expressed his anger for the “phony pictures” published in tabloids and the fake narrative created by Heard. He said that the way she’s trying to accuse a man of domestic violence got him “frustrated, confused, angry, upset,” and he became emotional while on the stand: “So many people have been affected by this malicious lie that she started and she created, and it’s gone out the door and around the world.” He claimed Depp’s family had been completely wrecked by the allegations and shed a tear as he cried over the unfairness faced by his friend.
Several other witnesses have spoken on the stand, such as Shannon Curry, a clinical and forensic psychologist. She was hired by Depp’s legal team, and after 12 hours with Heard, she concluded that Heard had borderline personality disorder and histrionic disorder. She noted that the fear of abandonment often makes them “explode and react.” Bredehoft expressed suspicion over Curry’s involvement with Depp’s legal team, accusing her of having dinner and drinks with them. Curry stated that at the meeting, they had dinner, but no drinking was involved.
Heard’s ex-assistant, Kate James, also took to the stand in a video call and stated that Heard verbally abused her while working and paid her very poorly. She said Heard often verbally abused her family and that she never witnessed any markings on Heard’s body or face. Sean Bett, Depp’s bodyguard, presented to the court photos of bruises he witnessed on Depp that supposedly were from Heard. He also stated that he saw Heard throw a plastic cup or bottle at Depp, aiming for his head. After the incident, Bett and Depp left together. He also recalled seeing Depp’s severed finger and hearing him blame Heard.
Depp took the stand and expressed, in a three-hour testimony, his side of the story for the first time. He said, “My goal is the truth.” He said that the beginning of their relationship was wonderful until things began to change. His team played a recording of Heard denying any accusations she made about domestic violence. When he asked why he put that out there in the recording, she cried, “I did not, you forced me, your team forced me to.” In the recording, she tells Depp to tell the world he’s a victim of domestic violence and see who believes him. In response, in the recording, Depp expressed anger over his severed finger and the can of mineral spirits that was thrown at his nose. In response, Heard says, “You can say it was a fair fight.”
In response to a video of him slamming cabinets, Depp said that the only abuse he’s guilty of is abusing furniture and that he never hit Heard. He would often go to dark places and get high, but he wouldn’t do it every moment of the day. When asked how much he had lost as a result of these allegations, Depp said, “nothing less than everything.” Depp also reported that Heard had left human feces on his side of the bed after an argument, which Heard’s team claimed was their dog’s.
Depp claimed that Heard’s accusation that he burned her with a cigarette was completely untrue. When reading past text messages with friends that contained crude comments about Heard, Depp explained that none of them were intended to be taken seriously. He described to the court an incident in which Heard faked a broken nose, clutching a tissue to it. Once Heard left the room, Depp went through the trash, and after a closer inspection, he determined that the blood was actually nail polish. He also stated that Heard would threaten to kill herself each time he would try to leave.
Although the trial has just begun and there are still several weeks ahead, the nation wonders how Heard will defend herself as they await her statement. The defense has announced that Heard will be the first witness to take the stand for the defense. Depp claims that the trial will not fix what has already been broken but will give him a chance to clear his name. He will never get the movie deals and money he had lost as a result of the accusations, and his family will never forget the pain they all felt. As Heard takes the stand for the first time, it’s important to take her statements into consideration while remembering the preexisting ones. Only the court can determine who is the true victim in the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.