FAIRFAX, Va. — Johnny Depp won all three counts of his bombshell defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard Wednesday after a Virginia jury substantiated the claim that his ex-wife sullied his reputation and damaged his career when she wrote about becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse” following the couple’s spilt.
The panel of seven in Fairfax decided to award the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star a total $15 million in damages after deliberating for about 13 hours. The judge, however, capped the amount in damages he could receive at $350,000.
“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 after the verdict.
Depp, 58, had sued Heard for $50 million over her 2018 Washington Post essay in which she wrote about facing “our culture’s wrath” for speaking out against a powerful man — a warning that seemingly became more prescient with the jury’s decision.
In her statement, Heard called the verdict a “setback” for other women, saying: “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’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,” she said.
The actress did win her second of three counts in her $100 million counterclaim against her ex-husband, with the jury finding that his attorney Adam Waldman did defame her when he told the Daily Mail she set up Depp in a hoax when the police came to their apartment in May 2016.
Early in his testimony, Depp told the jury he brought the lawsuit against the “Aquaman” actress for defamation to “clear my name.”
“My goal is the truth,” he said on April 19. “One day you’re Cinderella and then in zero point six seconds you’re Quasimodo. I didn’t deserve that and neither did my children.”
Heard, 36, alleged Depp physically and sexually abused her, recounting harrowing moments in her testimony in which she claimed the widely-beloved star assaulted her, including once forcibly penetrating her with a liquor bottle.
But Depp repeatedly denied the claims.
“Never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way nor have I ever struck any woman in my life,” he insisted.
Over the course of the six-week trial, the actor’s lawyers went to lengths to prove that Depp — not Heard — was the victim of domestic abuse in their doomed relationship.
Depp’s team also called a slew of witnesses to discuss the reputational damage he suffered as a result of Heard’s essay, including one who said the actor was “canceled” and no longer desirable to family friendly companies like Disney.
The jury listened to hours of testimony about one particular nasty fight in March 2015, when the couple was in Australia while Depp was filming the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment.
The fight ended in Depp losing the tip of his right, middle finger, which he said happened when Heard lobbed a bottle of vodka at him.
The “Aquaman” actress said her then-husband had been on a multi-day drug and alcohol binge that ended in him cutting off his own finger. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Depp wrote messages to Heard around their rental house with the blood spewing from his finger.
Depp did not deny the fact he had long suffered from issues with drugs and alcohol, but maintained he never got violent while abusing the substances.
“I’d done pretty much all the drugs I was aware of by the time I was 15 years old,” he testified. “It’s never been for the party effect. It’s been for trying to numb the things inside that can plague someone who has experienced trauma.”
During his verbose testimony, the actor took the jury on a trip down memory lane, depicting himself as a simple boy from the holler who grew up with an abusive mother, easy access to drugs and dreams of becoming a musician.
Each day of the trial, hoards of his fans packed the courtroom gallery, and the seats became so in demand people lined up at 1 a.m. to get a chance to see him in the flesh.
Devotees flew from around the world, telling The Post they were spending tens of thousands of dollars to support the man they believed to be innocent.
Online, his admirers got hashtags trending like #JusticeforJohnnyDepp and #AmberHeardIsALiar. The trial became the event of the year, watched by millions daily. Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez grew her own fan base, and expert witnesses for Heard say their businesses attacked online.
What’s next for Depp is unclear, but it’s widely believe the actor will take a victory lap and return to the big screen, vindicated and more-popular than ever.
Still, the trial highlighted his dark side, particularly in text messages he sent about Heard.
“Hopefully that c—t’s rotting corpse is decomposing in the f——g trunk of a honda civic,” he wrote in a 2016 message
In another, Depp fantasized about have sex with Heard’s “burnt corpse” to make sure she was dead. And in one foreboding text, Depp wrote that the actress was “begging for total global humiliation.“
“She’s gonna get it,” he said.
“I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion, or what I once thought was love for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market,” Depp wrote that same year.
On the stand, Heard tried to show that Depp caused her the “global humiliation” he promised.
Heard filed for a temporary restraining order against the actor in May 2016, after less than two years of marriage, as she petitioned a Los Angeles court for a divorce.
Depp had sued The Sun in the UK in 2020 over an article that called him a “wife beater,” and, after losing that case, he was asked to pull out of his role for the film “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”
After he filed the Virginia suit, Heard countersued him for $100 million dollars, claiming statements made on his behalf by lawyer Adam Waldman that she fabricated the abuse claims ruined her career and made her life hell.
“People want to kill me,” she said on May 26, in her return to the witness stand. “People want to put my baby in the microwave and they tell me that.”
Looking directly at the jury, Heard said, “Johnny … promised me that if I ever left him, he’d make me think of him every single day that I live.”
“In the harassment and humiliation, the campaign against me that’s echoed every single day on social media. And now in front of cameras in this room. Every single day I have to relive the trauma.
Heard’s team produced scores of photos of the actress’ bruises and injuries from alleged fights with Depp, whose team claimed the wounds were faked, painted on and digitally manipulated.
“No human being is perfect, certainly not, but I have never in my life committed sexual battery, physical abuse, all these outlandish, outrageous stories of me committing these things,” Depp said in May 25 testimony.
He called Heard’s statements “horrible, ridiculous, humiliating, ludicrous, painful, savage, unimaginably brutal, cruel, and all false.”
The trial was chock-full with celebrity name drops, as witnesses listed off names like Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, James Franco, writer Hunter S. Thompson, Winona Ryder, Zendaya, Marilyn Manson, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Bettany and Keith Richards.
Notably, the jury Heard testimony from two of Depp’s famous exes, Ellen Barkin and Kate Moss.
Barkin testified via deposition at the request of Heard’s team, saying that Depp was a “jealous” man who drank all the time and once hurled a wine bottle at her direction.
Moss was allowed to testify in a last minute shake-up after Heard offhandedly referenced a rumor that Depp pushed the British model down the stairs.
“He never pushed me, kicked me, or threw me down any stairs,” Moss said in live video deposition from England during the final week of the trial.