Actor and heartthrob Johnny Depp was just dealt a stinging rebuke after a judge ruled against his libel case. Depp was suing British newspaper The Sun for referring to him as a, “wife beater,” in relation to domestic abuse accusations by ex-wife Amber Heard. Fans of Depp have long claimed that it was in fact Heard who was abusing Depp, but this latest case throws that theory into doubt as the judge ruled that Depp did in fact abuse Heard at least 12 out of the 14 times she accused Depp of doing so.
Heard and Depp Have Been Battling in Court
Depp’s case against The Sun is just the former couple’s latest court altercation. Both have accused each other of domestic abuse and substance abuse issues, and the back and forth in court has been vicious.
Per UsWeekly, “Depp sued The Sun newspaper for libel for an April 2018 story citing allegations that Heard previously made detailing 14 different instances of abuse. The actor repeatedly stated that Heard’s accusations were false, but when she gave verbal testimony in the libel suit in July 2020, the actress went into extreme detail about the emotional, verbal and physical abuse she claimed she faced during their marriage.
‘He demeaned me anytime I tried to wear anything that could be seen as sexy, calling me a ‘whore,’ ‘slut,’ ‘fame-hungry’ and ‘an attention whore,’ it got worse over time. He started saying things like, ‘Well, I’m going to have to watch you get raped’ and ‘I hope you get railed by a bunch of f–king fellas. Sometimes he used racial epithets about the men I would be — or deserved to be — assaulted by,’ she alleged while speaking in court at the time. ‘Some incidents were so severe that I was afraid he was going to kill me, either intentionally, or just by losing control and going too far.’”
Both Depp and Heard detailed incidents of abuse, and the stories are chilling. Depp accused Heard of throwing bottles at him, nearly severing his finger, and defecating in their bed. Heard detailed incidents where Depp was violently jealous, mocking her attractive male co-workers and threatening her to keep her from seeking roles he thought were, “too sexy.” According to Heard, she feared for her life a few times after Depp grew violent while intoxicated.
Other People Involved in the Case
Both actors had plenty of supporters to vouch for their character and events. For Depp, former partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis testified that he was never violent towards them. They both claim that the accusations of abuse are out of character for the man they were once intimate with.
For Heard, her sister and Elon Musk gave input. Heard’s sister testified to an incident where Depp and she were in a verbal altercation, which Heard claims turned physical but her sister says did not escalate. Musk suggested they both bury the hatchet, but offered to meet Depp for a, “cage match,” if he continued to throw aspersions his way.
Judge Ruled That 12 of the 14 Incidents Heard Accused Depp of Happened
Despite the evidence that both Heard and Depp were abusive towards one another, Judge Andrew Nicol who was overseeing the case against The Sun, “ruled on Monday, November 2, that The Sun’s 2018 article containing the allegation was ‘substantially true.'”
In order for a libel lawsuit to succeed, the information defaming the complainant has to be false. In this case, Nicol felt that enough evidence backed up Heard’s version of events that what The Sun published was reasonably true. Therefore, publishing the moniker and accusations was not an example of libel.
What the Lawsuit Means, and What it Does Not Mean
The judge’s ruling means that he felt Heard’s accusations were at least mostly true. It does not, however, address whether or not she is guilty of also abusing Depp. Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean actor who believe Heard is the abuser and Depp is innocent may be shocked to hear that the judge believes Depp was in fact an abuser, but it does not absolve Heard.
What The Involved Parties Have to Say
Although Heard herself was only there to testify and not the subject of the lawsuit, her lawyers say that the results are unsurprising. Lawyers for The Sun responded, per CNN, “The Sun, which is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp., said in a statement following the verdict: ‘The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years. Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.'”
Per, the New York Times, “Jenny Afia, a partner at Schillings, the British law firm that represented Depp, said in an emailed statement that the American proceedings were ‘ongoing.’ She called the British decision ‘as perverse as it is bewildering” and said that ‘it would be ridiculous for Mr. Depp not to appeal.’”
The Battles Aren’t Over
While Heard isn’t the subject of this lawsuit, she is the subject of a defamation lawsuit that Depp filed after Heard wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
Whether or not Heard abused Depp as well as his fans claim, it’s clear that at least some of what Depp is accused of is considered reputable. Nicol wrote of the case per NYT, “The assaults ‘must have been terrifying,’ the judge wrote regarding incidents in March 2015 in Australia, in which Ms. Heard said that Mr. Depp assaulted her several times, including smashing a telephone beside her face. ‘I accept that Mr. Depp put her in fear of her life,’ the judge wrote.
The judge also acknowledged the risk Ms. Heard had taken in speaking up about the violence. ‘I also accept that Ms. Heard’s allegations have had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist,’ he said.”
After Heard initially made her accusations, Hollywood and fans of Depp across the country dragged her through the mud. Women’s rights groups in Britain are hailing this as a win for domestic abuse victims, who run the risk of public censure after opening up about abuse from high-profile figures like Depp. Regardless of Heard’s actions towards Depp, Depp’s actions show a deeply troubled, deeply dark individual who becomes volatile in the absence of sobriety. It’s unclear what effect the results of this case will have on the defamation case still ongoing against Heard.