For six weeks, the world watched as Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Aquaman actress Amber Heard, went head-to-head in a heated defamation trial. The fight began when The Washington Post published an OpEd, in which Heard accused Depp of domestic abuse. During the trial, Depp and Heard were referred to as “mutual abusers”, but in the end, the jury decided that, while Mr. Heard and Ms. Depp had both defamed each other, Heard was more at fault. Depp was awarded more than $10 million, and Heard was awarded $2 million.
Depp and Heard have both appealed the verdicts against them, with Ms. Heard even replacing the head of her legal team, Elaine Bredehoft. However, after months of fighting and filing appeal after appeal, Heard is now revealing that she is ending her fight. The actress shared an emotional message on Instagram:
After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia.
It’s important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward. Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to. I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.
I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.
When I stood before a judge in the UK, I was vindicated by a robust, impartial, and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media, and where the court found that I was subjected domestic and sexual violence. In the US, however, I exhausted almost all my resources in advance of and during a trial in which I was subjected to a courtroom in which abundant, direct direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process. In the interim I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot relive. Even if my US appeal is sucessful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence again. I simply cannot go through that for a third time.
Time is precious and I want to spend my time productively and purposefully. For too many years I have been caged in an arduous and expensive legal process, which has shown itself unable to protect me and my right to free speech. I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill – one that is not just financial, but also psychological, physical, and emotional. Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately, it is not uncommon.
In settling this case I am also choosing the freedom to dedicate my time to the work that helped me heal after my divorce; work that exists in realms in which I feel seen, heard, and believed, and in which I know I can effect change.
I will not be threatened, disheartened or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth. No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.
Heard wrapped up her emotional post with a message to her legal team and her supporters:
I’d like to thank my outstanding appellate and original trial teams for their relentless hard work. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and I turn my attention the growing support that I’ve felt and seen publicly in the months since trial, and the efforts that have been made to show solidarity with my story. Any survivor knows that the ability to tell their story often feels like the only relief, and I cannot find enough words to tell you the hope your belief in me inspires, not just for me, but for all of you.
Thank you. See you soon.
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Originally, Heard had demanded a new trial, with her attorney’s claiming that the case should not have even been tried in Virginia, along with a number of other issues with the decision. For his part, Depp’s lawyer has said that the judgment against Heard is not about the money, is it about the truth.
At this time, Mr. Depp is still working on moving forward with appealing the $2 million decision made against him.