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Actress Amber Heard was found guilty of defamation against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, and must pay $15 million in damages, according to a jury verdict reached Wednesday.
The jury found that Heard defamed Depp in a 2018 article published by the Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” by implying she was a victim of the Pirates of the Caribbean actor.
However, the seven-member jury also found Depp’s team guilty on one count of defamation, for which the actor must compensate Heard with a figure of $2 million.
In total, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages. The $2 million awarded to Heard is also for punitive damages.
The verdict caps nearly two months of a trial in which shocking revelations about Heard and Depp’s toxic relationship came to light. The actor’s problems with alcohol and drugs were publicly exposed, as well as the actress’ personality disorders.
Depp’s reaction to the verdict
The Alice in Wonderland star released a thank-you letter minutes after the verdict was announced, in which he stated that the jury “gave [him his] life back” after six years of “false, very serious and criminal allegations” against him.
“Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed,” Depp said on Instagram. “All in the blink of an eye.”
The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory actor stated in his letter that Heard’s claims unleashed “an endless barrage” of hatred against him, which had a “seismic impact” on his life and career.
“Six years later, the jury gave me my life back,” Depp continued. “I am truly humbled. My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought. From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.”
Finally, Depp said he felt “at peace” with the verdict, since telling the truth was something he “owed” to his children and those who believed him since the beginning.
Heard, “heartbroken” about her freedom of speech
The Aquaman actress also reacted a few hours later. In a post on Instagram, Heard said she was disappointed by the verdict and appealed once again to Depp’s “disproportionate power” as a tool to win the case.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” the actress stated. “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 the verdict is “a setback” in the cause of abused women and argued that Depp’s team had convinced the jury to “overlook” her freedom of speech, a right she believes was taken away from her with the court’s decision.
“I’m sad I lost this case,” the release continued. “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.”