Johnny Depp-Amber Heard to face off in defamation trial
Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife, Amber Heard, for an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The actor Johnny Depp could not convince a judge in London that he was innocent of allegations that he had abused his former wife, the actress Amber Heard, but in a trial starting Monday, the actor will take his defamation complaint to a jury in Virginia.
The U.S. trial centers on a lawsuit Mr. Depp filed against Ms. Heard, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018, after the couple divorced, saying she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The piece did not mention Mr. Depp by name, but the actor has asserted in court papers that it clearly referred to their relationship, and that his reputation and career were “devastated” as a result.
During three years of legal sparring in Virginia, Mr. Depp, 58, and Ms. Heard, 35, have shared pages of lurid details from their varying accounts of their marriage. Ms. Heard’s descriptions of “volatile and violent” episodes with Mr. Depp throughout their relationship included his slapping her, head-butting her, throwing her to the ground, and pulling out clumps of her hair, according to court papers.
In his lawsuit, filed in March 2019, Mr. Depp denied that he was a domestic abuser and said Ms. Heard’s accusations were an “elaborate hoax” intended to boost her public persona — one that succeeded in making her a “darling of the #MeToo movement.” Mr. Depp has said Ms. Heard had been the perpetrator of abuse, accusing her in court papers of punching, kicking him and throwing objects, including a vodka bottle that he said shattered on the countertop and severed the tip of one of his fingers.
“Mr. Depp brings this defamation action to clear his name,” the actor’s lawsuit said.
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Ms. Heard said in court papers that she has never attacked Mr. Depp except in self-defense or in defense of her younger sister, and that Mr. Depp severed the tip of his finger when he smashed a phone against the wall during a violent outburst. “I have never physically abused anyone,” she wrote. “I know what that does to people.”
The trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court is expected to last about six weeks and will begin with jury selection. The proceedings will be televised, all but guaranteeing that they will become a public spectacle. Both parties are expected to testify. In addition, Ms. Heard’s list of potential witnesses includes several celebrities — among them Elon Musk and James Franco — and the evidence the two sides intend to put forward includes text messages between the couple, medical records and surveillance footage from Los Angeles, where they lived together.