• Sat. Mar 25th, 2023


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Johnny Depp to take the stand in defamation trial against Amber Heard

Actor Johnny Depp is set to take the witness stand Tuesday in his legal battle against his former wife Amber Heard, whom he accuses of lying about his abusing her during their brief marriage.

Depp is suing Heard for defamation over an essay she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she said she had become the “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the article never mentions Depp by name, his attorneys said it indirectly refers to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce.

The trial in Fairfax County, Virginia, is expected to take weeks. A Fairfax judge ruled in 2019 that Depp was within his rights to bring the case there because The Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers in the county.

Depp’s lawyers argued in opening statements last week that Heard ruined his reputation by “choosing to lie about him for her own personal benefit.”

Heard’s attorneys pushed back, describing Depp as an alcohol- and substance-dependent abuser who is seeking revenge.

They said in opening statements that Heard’s essay was written to highlight legislation to protect survivors and that it never detailed allegations against Depp.

Their former couples therapist, Laurel Anderson, testified that the abuse appeared to be “mutual” during their marriage. Anderson said Depp told her that Heard “gave as good as she got.”

Heard would rather be in a fight with Depp than see him leave, and she “would strike him to keep him there,” Anderson said. During cross-examination, Anderson clarified that her understanding was that Heard “fought back” after Depp became physical. 

In court filings before the trial, Heard said she hit Depp only in self-defense or in defense of her younger sister, according to The New York Times.

Anderson also testified that Heard, in a session conducted separately from her husband, said Depp hit her and that she showed her bruises.

Heard was granted a protective order in May 2016 after she alleged that Depp hit her in the face with a cellphone. She presented evidence to the court — a photo of a bruise to her face — and claimed he pulled her hair, screamed at her and hit her repeatedly.

“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny Depp has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” Heard said in a sworn declaration at the time.

She also said she lived in fear of Depp, saying he had a “short fuse” and terrorized her.

Depp, the star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, denies having ever physically abused Heard. It is his second attempt to sue over the allegation; a libel suit in the United Kingdom failed two years ago.

Depp sued News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, for calling him a “wife beater” in a 2018 article about the couple.

Justice Andrew Nicol ruled against Depp, saying the British tabloid had presented substantial evidence to show that Depp was violent against Heard on at least 14 occasions.

Depp’s attorneys said Nicol relied too much on Heard’s testimony, describing her as an unreliable witness and a compulsive liar.

The Associated Press contributed.