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Amber Heard settles Johnny Depp defamation case


Amber Heard announced Monday morning that she decided to settle the defamation case brought against her by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. Heard had previously filed to appeal the June verdict, which largely sided with Depp while still finding that the actors each defamed one another.

“I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder,” Heard wrote in a statement on Instagram.

The case stemmed from a 2018 op-ed in which Heard described herself as a representative of domestic abuse, without naming anyone specific. Depp, to whom Heard was legally married for two years, sued her for $50 million, citing defamation and claiming the article negatively impacted his career.

After a weeks-long trial in Fairfax, Va., earlier this year that captivated social media and led to all sorts of pointed commentary online — much of the vitriol directed toward Heard, often in a misogynistic manner — a jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages. Heard received $2 million for one of three counts in her countersuit, which argued that Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman defamed her.

Jennifer Freyd, an expert in the psychology of sexual violence, discusses the impact of Amber Heard’s testimony in Johnny Depp’s defamation trial. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

In her statement, Heard wrote that she was “vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system” in the United Kingdom, where Depp in 2020 lost a libel case against the publisher of the Sun, a British tabloid that called him a “wife beater” in reference to Heard. In the United States, she argued, “I was subjected to a courtroom in which abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process.”

Representatives for Depp have not yet responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment.

Depp has returned to work since the trial. Shortly after, he announced he would be releasing an album with British guitarist Jeff Beck. He booked film projects — including a biopic of the artist Modigliani that Depp is set to direct and co-produce alongside Al Pacino — and has continued to serve as the face of Dior’s Sauvage cologne. He made a brief virtual cameo at the MTV Video Music Awards in August and last month stirred controversy by appearing in Rihanna’s “Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 4.”

Heard stated that while her choice to settle was “not an act of concession,” the case had been draining her financially and emotionally. In settling the case, she wrote, “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.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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