WASHINGTON — Actress Amber Heard has settled her defamation case against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, she announced on Instagram Monday.
Heard was found guilty of defaming Depp by writing a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post that made thinly veiled accusations of domestic abuse against Depp. At the trial, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and Heard was awarded $2 million in her countersuit.
"After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia," Heard wrote.
"It’s important for me to say that I never chose this," she wrote. "I defended my truth and in doing so my life as a I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward. Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to. I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice going forward."
The trial was one of the most noteworthy events of the year, with daily updates on the tumultuous marriage between Heard, 36, and Depp, 59.
Depp sued Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers said he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.
The jury found in Depp's favor on all three of his claims relating to specific statements in the 2018 piece.
But in a split decision, the jury also found that Heard was defamed by one Depp's lawyers, who accused her of creating a detailed hoax that included roughing up their apartment to look worse for police. The jury awarded her $2 million in damages.
In evaluating Heard's counterclaims, jurors considered three statements by a lawyer for Depp who called her allegations a hoax. They found she was defamed by one of them, in which the lawyer claimed that she and friends “spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight,” and called police.
The jury found Depp should receive $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, but the judge said state law caps punitive damages at $350,000, meaning Depp was awarded $10.35 million.
While the case was ostensibly about libel, most of the testimony focused on whether Heard had been physically and sexually abused, as she claimed. Heard enumerated more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia — where Depp was shooting a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel — in which Depp lost the tip of his middle finger and Heard said she was sexually assaulted with a liquor bottle.
Depp said he never hit Heard and that she was the abuser, though Heard’s attorneys highlighted yearsold text messages Depp sent apologizing to Heard for his behavior as well as profane texts he sent to a friend in which Depp said he wanted to kill Heard and defile her dead body.