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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Actor Amber Heard to settle defamation case with ex-husband Johnny Depp

Actor Amber Heard said on Monday she would settle defamation claims that were brought against her by ex-husband and fellow actor Johnny Depp, ending years of legal wrangling over dueling claims of abuse during their marriage.

The entertainment website TMZ, citing sources with direct knowledge, said the settlement calls for the 36-year-old Heard to pay $1 million to her 59-year-old former husband. Heard, who had a starring role in the movie Aquaman, said she was dropping her appeal of the damages awarded by the jury and settling the case because she “simply cannot go through” another trial.

“After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case,” she said. “I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder,” she said. “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,” Heard said.

The jury found Depp and Heard liable for defamation – but sided more strongly with the Fantastic Beasts actor following an intense six-week trial riding on bitterly contested allegations of domestic abuse. The jury awarded $10.35 million in damages to Depp. Heard, who had countersued, was awarded $2 million.

Read more: What important lessons Amber heard vs Johnny Depp trial gives to us?

‘Defended my truth’

Depp sued Heard over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” The Texas-born Heard did not name Depp in the piece, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and sought $50 million in damages.

Heard countersued for $100 million, saying she was defamed by statements made by Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, who told the Daily Mail her abuse claims were a “hoax.” The case, live-streamed to millions, featured lurid and intimate details about the Hollywood celebrities’ private lives.

Heard’s lawyers said following the trial that the actress did not have the resources to pay Depp the $10 million in damages. In her Instagram post, Heard said she “defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed.”

In a lengthy post on social media Monday morning, the star shared, “I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder,” Heard went on to say, noting that she had “exhausted almost all my resources” before and during the Virginia set trial this past spring. “Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking their truth, but unfortunately, it is not uncommon.”

Read more: Johnny Depp wins defamation case against ex-wife Heard

Heard also said that the agreement provided “an opportunity to emancipate me from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to.” She went on to write, “I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”

Representatives for Heard did not respond to requests for additional comment after the star posted her decision on Instagram. “It’s important for me to say that I never chose this,” Heard said in her post. “I defended my truth and in doing so my life as 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-victimized when they come forward,” she wrote.

Heard went on to say she finally has the opportunity to “emancipate” herself from something she tried to leave over six years ago. In the post, she also said she had lost faith in the American legal system and favors the UK legal system as more “robust,” “impartial” and “fair”. Heard also blasted the US media, saying it favored “popularity and power” over “direct evidence.”

“In the interim, I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I cannot re-live,” Heard said. “Even if my US appeal is successful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence again. I simply cannot go through that for the third time.”

Read more: Johnny Depp to hear if he can appeal UK ‘wife-beater’ ruling

Depp to donate $1 million to charity

Meanwhile, per Variety, Depp’s attorneys Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez had something else to say about the settlement. In a joint statement, they reveal that the terms of the settlement include Heard paying Depp $1 million through her insurance company.

That’s significantly less than the $10.35 million he was awarded, but as the attorneys state, the goal of the trial was to bring “the truth to light.” They also say that Depp will “actually” donate the full million to charities.

“We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light,” the statement reads.

“The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgment in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1 million – which Mr. Depp is pledging and will (actually) donate to charities – reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgment of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”