Amber Heard has described the verdict as a “setback” for women, after Johnny Depp successfully won his defamation case against her, with a jury awarding him $US10.35 million ($AUD14.45 million) in damages.
Releasing a statement to Twitter, Heard said that her disappointment is “beyond words” and that she’s heartbroken that the evidence shared wasn’t enough to “stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband”.
“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.”
After the six-week trial, the jury of seven found in favour of the 58-year old on all three counts. Depp’s lawyers successfully proved that Heard had made false and defamatory statements in her Washington Post op ed, and had done so with “actual malice” — a higher threshold for cases involving public figures.
Depp was never named in Heard’s op-ed, in which she outlined how “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath” and noted how “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse”
The jurors’ unanimous decision on Wednesday ended the trial in Virginia, which saw dozens of witnesses and experts interrogated about the couple’s 15-month marriage, and whether the pair were abusive towards each other.
But Depp’s win was not absolute, with the jurors awarding Heard on one count of her countersuit, where she argued she was defamed by Depp’s press agent who accused her of roughing up their apartment for police to look worse and calling her allegations “an abuse hoax” seeking to capitalise on the #MeToo movement.
The 36-year old actress was awarded US$2 million (AUD$2.79 million).
Heard was present in the courtroom while the verdict was read out, but did not make any comments — until later tweeting her reaction.
The televised trial has seen significant vitriol and backlash against Heard online and across the wider media, particularly from Depp fans as well as those who used the trial as a means to dismiss stories of women and some of the overarching themes of the #MeToo movement.
Heard has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories online, including that she faked photos of injuries. She has been ruthlessly trolled and mocked, especially for getting emotional in describing her allegations against Depp.
Depp, who was not present in the courtroom when the verdict was read out, released a statement, thanking the jury, saying — “the jury gave me my life back. 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,” he said.
“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.”
“I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up.”
“I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media,” he expressed, before ending the statement with a Latin quote: “Veritas numquam perit” – Truth never perishes.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It’s a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
Depp’s attorneys addressed a cheering crowd outside the court after the verdict was read out, saying that the results, “confirmed what we have said from the beginning – that the claims against Johnny Depp were defamatory and unsupported by any evidence”.