After six weeks of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial, a verdict was reached by a Virginia jury on June 1. The jurors found Heard defamed Depp in her Washington Post op-ed from 2018 that described instances of abuse, but they also found that Depp defamed Heard while fighting his charges.
Depp had sued for $50 million in damages over Heard’s op-ed, which did not mention Depp by name, but included statements she made on domestic violence during their divorce in 2016, two years before the op-ed was published.
Heard was found liable on three counts for the statements from her piece:
- “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
- “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
- “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Through his attorney, Depp was found to have defamed Heard, and she received $2 million in compensatory damages for her counterclaim. Depp was ultimately awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages. However, the punitive damages awarded were lowered by the judge to $350,000, due to the state’s statutory cap.
In a statement after the verdict was revealed, Heard shared: “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.”
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“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback,” she added. “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.”
Depp also made a statement on the jury’s outcome: “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Although the internet is divided over the outcome, the verdict is still a sensitive one, particularly for survivors of domestic abuse.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence the Canadian Association of Social Workers has a number of resources in place to help support you. For information, click here.