The trial for Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard began on Tuesday, April 12th in Virginia. Deep sued Heard in 2019 for $50 million over her Washington Post op-ed in which she referred to prior allegations against her ex-husband, while also saying she had become “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Although Heard did not refer to Depp by name or go into any details of the abuse, Depp’s attorneys have accused her of fabricating the claims in order to derail his career and advance her own. That allegation led to Heard filing a $100 million countersuit of her own. And after losing a libel lawsuit against The Sun in November 2020, the trial represents a second opportunity for Depp to refute Heard’s allegations of abuse.
Jurors in Fairfax, Virginia will hear witness testimony and review evidence in the form of text messages and photographs over the next six or seven weeks in order to determine who is telling the truth. James Franco and Elon Musk are listed as potential witnesses to testify on Heard’s behalf, while Paul Bettany appears on Depp’s list.
Heard testified in Depp’s libel case against The Sun that Franco asked her about bruises on her face after an alleged incident with Depp. Meanwhile, Depp claimed in his lawsuit against Heard that she had an affair with Musk “no later than one month after” their 2015 marriage. Bettany was pulled into the UK trial when a series of texts he exchanged with Depp was read, in which they described “burning,” “drowning,” and having sex with Heard’s “burnt corpse.”
Tuesday, April 12th
The opening statements delivered on Tuesday laid out a clear path for the arguments to come. Whereas Depp’s attorneys Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez argued that their evidence will show Heard’s multiple allegations of assault are “a lie,” Heard’s attorneys alleged she was sexually abused by Depp on more than one occasion while promising the actress would testify herself about the violence “in the most graphic and horrifying terms.”
Furthermore, Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft made shocking new claims of sexual assault, alleging Depp penetrated Heard in March 2015 with a liquor bottle during a trip to Australia which the actress previously described as a “three-day hostage situation.” Bredehoft went on to accuse Depp of sexually assaulting Heard again in the Bahamas in December 2015.
Depp’s team later issued a statement in response to the new allegations. “These fictitious claims were never made at the onset of Amber’s allegations in 2016, and only advantageously surfaced years later once she was sued for defamation after noting in her op-ed that she was a victim of ‘sexual violence,’” a spokesperson told The Independent. “Words are key in a defamation case and conveniently, this allegation only came after that. This follows a pattern of her elaborate, erroneous claims which have continued to change and evolve over time for the purpose of Hollywood shock value of which Amber has mastered and used to exploit a serious social movement.”