Did johnny depp beat his wife

Inside the key allegations in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial

The allegations at the center of the Depp v. Heard defamation trial are stark.

Amber Heard alleged that her ex-husband Johnny Depp subjected her to years of abuse, testifying in graphic terms about the tumult of their marriage and the toll of his “pattern” of violence. Depp, for his part, says Heard was the aggressor.

But over the last six weeks, the reality of those allegations was often obscured by a torrent of memes, mockery and misinformation on social platforms, where the first high-profile celebrity trial of the 2020s turned into a TikTok-era media circus.

“The way this trial has been framed in the public consciousness is deeply problematic,” said Jamie R. Abrams, a law professor at the University of Louisville. “It reveals so much about our society’s relationship to violence and to gendered violence particularly.”

The trial is a civil matter that largely revolves around an op-ed Heard published in The Washington Post in 2018. Depp is seeking $50 million in damages from Heard, alleging she defamed him when she wrote that she was a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” (She did not identify him by name.) Heard countersued for $100 million, alleging Depp defamed her when one of his lawyers called her abuse allegations a “hoax.”

The seven-person jury in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court, which began deliberating on Friday afternoon, must ultimately decide whether the words Heard published in The Washington Post were true. But making that ruling requires them to weigh the allegations of abuse that were entered into the record in Virginia.

“If I were giving closing arguments as one of Heard’s lawyers, I would tell the jury, ‘You don’t have to believe everything that Amber Heard has said. You don’t even have to believe every allegation of violence. You just need to believe one,’” said Danny Cevallos, an NBC News legal analyst. “If you conclude that Johnny Depp was violent to her once, then she wins, because it means she can say, truthfully, she is a survivor of abuse.

Here’s a look at some of the major allegations and key evidence, evaluated by some legal experts.

Heard alleges Depp physically abused her

Heard, who met Depp on the set of the film “The Rum Diary” in 2011 and married him in 2015, testified about several incidents of alleged physical abuse before and during their marriage, saying his violent episodes were usually caused by some combination of alcohol, drugs or jealousy. Depp denies ever being violent with Heard or any other woman.

She said the first act of physical violence occurred in 2013, recalling that he slapped her three times one day after she laughed at one of his tattoos. “I will never forget it,” Heard said. “It changed my life.”

Heard testified about various other incidents of physical violence, describing occasions in which Depp allegedly slapped her, threw her to the ground, grabbed her by the hair, pushed her against a wall, head-butted her and threw objects at her, including drinking glasses and a cellphone.

The lawyers for Heard introduced evidence they said backed up her claims, including cellphone photos of Heard with bruises on her face, texts Depp sent using violent language and an audio recording of Heard apparently pleading with him to put down a knife. Depp’s lawyers, without providing evidence, said the images were doctored.

Bryan Neumeister, an expert witness called by Depp’s legal team, testified that embedded data showed some photos went through an Apple photo-editing and -sorting application. He noted that three photos that appeared to be the same were in fact different sizes. He did not offer an opinion as to whether they were intentionally altered.

Heard’s attorneys noted that Neumeister had no degree or certifications in computer science and that the application is also used to save photos. 

Depp disputed parts of Heard’s testimony, saying he has never struck a woman. In response to the head-butting claim, Depp alleged that Heard attacked him and they might have accidentally knocked heads while he attempted to restrain her.

Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

-Limor Mojdehiazad, a family law litigator

The trial also featured testimony from witnesses who said they saw Heard with injuries on her body, although they said they were not present when the injuries were allegedly inflicted. Heard’s former makeup artist, for example, testified that she concealed the actor’s bruises and split lip before a talk show appearance in 2015.

Limor Mojdehiazad, a family law litigator in Los Angeles who updates her more than 447,000 TikTok followers on the trial, said she found the broad sweep of Heard’s team’s evidence “persuasive.” Cevallos, the NBC News analyst, agreed.

“I think, given the evidence, I would expect a verdict for Amber Heard,” Cevallos said. “The jury can disbelieve most of what Amber Heard said, but Amber has come forward with not just testimonial evidence but also documentary evidence — videos, photographs — of injuries. If the jury connects those to one event, in theory, they should find for Amber Heard. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.”

Heard alleges Depp sexually assaulted her

Heard’s graphic account of an incident in March 2015, roughly a month after she married Depp, became a focal point during the trial. She testified that the couple were in Australia during production of the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. Depp was angry and accused her of having sex with actors in her movies, which she denied.

Heard said she confronted Depp about his drug use after he took the drug MDMA. The two argued and he became “belligerent,” she said, hitting her face, shoving her to the ground, choking her, throwing her into a pingpong table and ripping off her nightgown.

Depp then sexually assaulted her with a glass liquor bottle, Heard testified. “I couldn’t get up. I thought he was punching me,” she said. “I could just feel this pressure on my pubic bone.”

Depp has denied using MDMA in the instance Heard alleged, stating that he has used the drug maybe six or seven times in his life. He denied Heard’s allegation that he took eight to 10 MDMA pills that night in Australia, adding that he was sure he’d “be dead” if he did so.

The altercation ended with Depp writing profane messages in blood on the walls and the tip of his middle finger severed. Depp, who denied sexually assaulting Heard, says his finger was cut when she hurled a vodka bottle at him. Heard, who said she took sleeping pills after the assault, says she was not awake when Depp’s finger was cut.

In cross-examination, Depp’s lawyers pressed Heard on why she did not have medical records to substantiate the allegation of assault. In the minds of the legal experts who spoke to NBC News, though, Heard’s lack of documentation backing up the alleged assault can be interpreted in at least two ways.

“If the jury puts themselves in Heard’s shoes and hears this testimony, they might think, ‘If that happened to me, I would go to the hospital. I would at least call someone,’” Mojdehiazad said. “If the jurors think that they would have sought medical attention but she didn’t, they may not believe that testimony.”

“But if they understand that this is a Hollywood couple and maybe they don’t want the world to know anything that was happening behind closed doors, and Amber may have been full of shame, then the medical records won’t be as important to them,’” Mojdehiazad said. “You don’t have to seek medical attention when there is domestic violence. You don’t always run to a doctor when it happens.”

Cevallos echoed that point, saying: “You could draw two inferences. Maybe she didn’t seek attention because it wasn’t true. But women who are abused often internalize it and do not seek attention. I think it could cut both ways, and I think both sides know that.”

Depp alleges Heard was the aggressor

In his testimony, Depp portrayed Heard as the aggressor in their relationship and the person who instigated conflicts that sometimes led to physical altercations. He said she subjected him to “demeaning name-calling” and acting out of a “need for conflict.”

“It could begin with a slap. It could begin with a shove. It could begin with throwing a TV remote at my head, throwing a glass of wine in my face,” Depp said.

“It’s hard to explain, but the argument would start here, but it would roll around and become this circular thing of its own,” he said. “You’d get back to the beginning. … Now it’s heightened even more and it’s still circular. There’s no way in or out.”

Depp said he used drugs and alcohol as a way to psychologically cope with Heard’s alleged abuse, testifying that she also drank heavily. Depp also testified that he began taking his mother’s “nerve pills” at age 11 to “escape the chaotic nature” of the abuse he says he endured as a child.

In terms of evidence, Depp’s legal team presented audio recorded during the couple’s arguments, among other materials. 

In one audio recording, Heard seemingly admits to having “hit” Depp while also denying that she punched him. In another recording, Heard says: “Tell people it was a fair fight and see what the jury and judge think. Tell the world, Johnny. Tell them, ‘I, Johnny Depp, I’m a victim too of domestic violence, and it was a fair fight,’ and see if people believe or side with you.”

Heard has testified she struck Depp only in self-defense and to protect her sister, Whitney Henriquez.

Depp’s attorneys called several witnesses, including the actor’s security team, his sister, a forensic psychologist they hired and a marriage counselor who conducted their sessions while they were still a couple. Laurel Anderson, the marriage counselor, said she observed “mutual abuse” in the relationship. Depp’s security team testified that they never witnessed Depp assault Heard but said their relationship was volatile.

Mojdehiazad said she believes the invocation of “mutual abuse,” a divisive concept among domestic violence experts, was “not helpful for Depp’s case, because if that’s true, then Amber Heard was in an abusive relationship. She was one part of it and she may have been the aggressor, but she’s still one of two — so she can still make the statement that she made in The Washington Post.”

Cevallos said Depp’s team did not introduce any material evidence that struck him as especially persuasive, but he said he believes there is an “X factor” that means a Heard victory is not a foregone conclusion.

“The piece of evidence is the ‘X factor’ that was the hypnotic testimony and general star power of Johnny Depp. If he weren’t Johnny Depp, the first five minutes of his eccentric, bizarre style of testifying would have turned off, I think, every jury and every lawyer and every judge,” Cevallos said. 

“But for some reason, Johnny Depp has that je ne sais quoi that studios paid millions of dollars for, and it seems to be working at least on social media. Whether or not it’s working on the jury, we’ll see,” Cevallos said.

Abrams, the law professor, expressed skepticism about the groundswell of support for Depp on social media, where some of his defenders rallied around the hashtag #JusticeForJohnny or mocked Heard.

“There will be questions to unravel later about whether this social media swirl happened organically or whether this was part of a targeted strategy orchestrated by any larger cause,” Abrams said.

She also raised concerns about how what she characterized as the “toxic backlash” to the case could shape the decisions of “everyday victims” of abuse.

“While Heard and Depp have a fleet of lawyers and publicists supporting them through this, ordinary people have none of this. I trust that Depp and Heard will pick up the pieces of their lives — regardless of the case outcome — and return to their circles and careers, respectively,” Abrams said.

“I am gravely worried, though, about how everyday victims of domestic and sexual abuse throughout the country who have not yet come forward will be silenced by this case and the toxic backlash that is far bigger than just Heard,” Abrams said.

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence hotline for help at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to www. thehotline.org for more. States often have domestic violence hotlines as well.

Psychologist testifies actor Johnny Depp assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard

Actor Amber Heard suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from violence she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband Johnny Depp, including multiple acts of sexual assault, a psychologist testified Tuesday.

The sexual assaults included being forced to perform oral sex and having Depp penetrate her with a liquor bottle, the psychologist, Dawn Hughes, told jurors at Depp's libel trial against Heard. Depp accuses Heard of falsely claiming in a newspaper op-ed piece that she was a victim of domestic violence.

Hughes' testimony contradicts that of a psychologist hired by Depp's lawyers, who said Heard was faking her symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered from borderline and histrionic personality disorders. Hughes disputed that Heard suffers from any personality disorder.

Hughes was the first witness to take the stand on Heard's behalf after Depp's lawyers rested their case Tuesday morning.

Hughes said there is corroboration of many of the instances of abuse, including apologies and admissions made by Depp to Heard and admissions he made to friends in text messages about his bad behavior when he drinks. In some cases, Heard told her therapists about the abuse contemporaneously, Hughes said.

Depp has said he never physically attacked Heard, and that she was the aggressor who routinely hit him and threw things at him through the course of their relationship.

Hughes, in her testimony, said Heard acknowledged that she did at times push and shove Depp, call him names and insult his parenting.

But Hughes said there's a difference in the violence when a smaller person strikes at a larger person, and that Depp's violence was intimidating and threatened her safety, but Heard's violence did not have the same effect on Depp.

"That's just physics; that's just proportional force," she said.

Much of the violence, Hughes said, stemmed from Depp's obsessive jealousy. He insisted she avoid nude scenes, if she worked at all, and accused her of affairs with actors Billy Bob Thornton and James Franco. If she did work on a film, Depp would call the director and others on set and say he "had eyes" there who would report to him if she fraternized improperly, Hughes said.

And Heard, who identifies as bisexual according to treatment notes introduced at trial, also faced scrutiny in her interactions with women. Hughes said Depp on one occasion manually penetrated Heard in anger after witnessing Heard's interactions with a woman.

"Amber got accused of women hitting her, and she got accused of men hitting on her," Hughes said.

Heard blinked back tears, and her lips and chin quivered at times as Hughes described the abuse.

Hughes said she based her testimony on 29 hours of interviews with Heard, as well as interviews with her therapists and a review of court documents.

Earlier Tuesday, Depp's lawyers rested their case, and a judge rejected a motion from Heard's lawyers to dismiss the case. Heard's lawyers argued that Depp had failed to make his case as a matter of law and that no reasonable jury could find in his favor.

But the judge, Penney Azcarate, said the standard for dismissing a case at this point in the trial is exceedingly high, and that the case should be allowed to move forward if Depp has provided even a "scintilla" of evidence backing up his claims.

Depp and his lead lawyer, Benjamin Chew, patted each other on the back after the judge ruled the case can proceed.

Chew argued that the jury has a wealth of evidence to conclude that Heard falsely accused Depp of abuse. In fact, he said, the evidence shows that "Ms. Heard physically abused him. She's the abuser."

Heard's lawyer, J. Benjamin Rottenborn, said the evidence is clear over the last three weeks of testimony that Heard's allegations of abuse are truthful.

"We haven't gotten to put on our case yet," he said. "This is all evidence that has come in while plaintiff controls the playing field. "

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Fairfax County Circuit Court after Heard wrote a December 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post describing herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse." The article never mentions Depp by name, but Depp's lawyers say he was defamed nevertheless because it's a clear reference to abuse allegations Heard levied in 2016, in the midst of the couple's divorce proceedings.

The judge on Tuesday did say she's reserving judgment on whether the article's headline in online editions should be part of the libel lawsuit because she said the evidence is unclear at this point whether Heard wrote the headline or is responsible for it. The online headline reads, "I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."

Hughes will be cross-examined Wednesday, and Heard is expected to take the stand Wednesday as well.

"I've never laid a hand on a woman." US court finds out whether Johnny Depp beat his wife or not

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Image copyright Getty Images

Johnny Depp testified in a libel trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.

The actor reiterated that he had never beaten his ex-wife and had never raised a hand against women at all.

Depp has filed a $50 million lawsuit against his ex-wife in connection with an opinion piece written by Heard for the Washington Post, in which she identified herself as a victim of domestic violence. She filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp, and both lawsuits were merged into one case. nine0005

The Washington Post itself is not a defendant in this case.

The Virginia civil lawsuit is now in its second week and is expected to last at least six weeks.

Heard's team of lawyers aims to portray Depp as a violent man, prone to drug and alcohol use.

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  • "He blamed his own monster for everything. " Amber Heard testified at Johnny Depp's trial0026

Depp's lawyers are trying to frame Heard's allegations of domestic violence as a hoax and a deliberate strategy to destroy his reputation.

Speaking to the jury on Tuesday, Depp said that only the truth matters to him now.

"I have never beaten Ms. Heard and have never beaten a woman in my life," he said.

"It's been six years of testing - it's so weird when first you're Cinderella, so to speak, and then 0.6 seconds later you're Quasimodo," he said, describing how people's attitudes towards him changed after the Washington Post article. nine0005

"My goal is the truth, because it kills me that the people I've been in contact with, whom I've dated over the years...think I'm a fraud and that I lied to them," he added.

Image copyright Getty Images

So far, the lawsuit has mainly focused on Depp's behavior and whether he has ever insulted Hurd in word or action. Depp's lawyers accused the actress of "playing the best part of her life" in her descriptions of the alleged abuse. nine0005

The jury heard evidence from the couple's former therapist, who described how Depp and Heard mutually abused each other. Medical professionals who worked with Depp when he was undergoing treatment for opiate addiction also testified.

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On Monday, nurse Debbie Lloyd, hired to treat Depp's drug addiction and who was present at the couple's wedding, told the court that she witnessed several attempts by Heard to provoke a conflict with her husband. nine0005

According to Lloyd, who often traveled with Depp, his wife sometimes got into fights with him while he was in treatment.

Sound engineer Keenan Wyatt, who has worked with Depp on almost all of his films since the 1990s, revealed on Tuesday that he has never seen the actor verbally or physically abuse his two children or their mother.

Depp and Hurd presented the court with lists of potential witnesses they could call, including Hurd's former partner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk and actor James Franco. nine0005

  • Winona Ryder: "Johnny Depp never laid a hand on me"

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The End of the Story Podcast

US libel trial is a tricky process for plaintiffs, especially high-profile figures like Depp, who must provide clear and conclusive evidence that Heard made knowingly false statements. nine0005

Prior to the US trial, Depp sued the owner of the British newspaper Sun, News Group Newspapers, and its editor Dan Wootton over an article published in April 2018.

The newspaper accused the actor of beating his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. The article was titled "Going Crazy: How can J.K. Rowling be genuinely happy that domestic abuser Depp will play in the new Fantastic Beasts movie?

In November 2020, the High Court of London ruled that the newspaper was able to prove the veracity of the information contained in the article.

The court's decision stated that the newspaper's claims that Depp was a "wife beater" were true. The court also refused to award compensation to Depp for alleged damage to his reputation.

  • Depp lost his lawsuit against the Sun tabloid. He claimed that the actor beat his ex-wife

"I conclude that the defense was able to demonstrate the veracity of the words that she published," said Judge Andrew Nichol. "Thus, this claim is rejected." nine0005

Shortly thereafter, Depp was, in his words, "asked" to turn down the role of villain Gellert Grindelwald on Fantastic Beasts, to which he accepted.

Warner Bros. then confirmed Depp's departure from the franchise and announced that they would conduct new screen tests for this role in the third film in the series.

Did Johnny Depp beat his wife? Hollywood's most famous pirate on trial with the Sun


Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard used separate entrances to London's High Court

Hollywood actor Johnny Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, owner of British newspaper Sun, and its editor Dan Wootton for article published in April 2018. The newspaper accused the actor of beating his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. Johnny Depp himself categorically denies these accusations.

The lawyer representing the interests of the actor in the High Court of London, called these allegations completely untrue.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard testified on the first day of the trial.

  • Johnny Depp divorced Amber Heard

Two former girlfriends of Depp, French singer Vanessa Paradis and American actress Winona Ryder, will appear in court in defense of the Pirates of the Caribbean star via video link.

"Full lie"

Lawyer David Sherborne, defending the actor, said that the article contained extremely serious accusations defaming Depp. In it, in particular, it was said that the actor allegedly repeatedly attacked Hurd and caused her such serious injuries that she was afraid for her life.

"The article was a full-fledged attack on the plaintiff, he was accused of beating his wife and terrible physical violence," the lawyer said in court.

"The plaintiff's position is quite clear: all of Hurd's allegations are complete lies," Sherborne said. "He did not use violence against Hurd, on the contrary, she used violence against him. " nine0005

Photo credit, AFP

Photo caption,

Amber Heard appeared in court in London

Johnny Depp was the first witness in the case, speaking about a recording of a conversation between him and Heard in September 2015.

Recorded family conversations

The actor explained that both spouses regularly recorded conversations with each other during their relationship.

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Amber Heard, who is also a witness in the case, told the court that she recorded their conversations to remind Johnny of what he could have said or done when he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, otherwise he would not remember or denied it.

Depp dismissed Heard's version and said that he himself was recording because their memories of what was said in the conversation were radically different.

The owners of the Sun newspaper tried to keep the case out of court, but Judge Andrew Nichol accepted the actor's claim. The article was based on accusations made by the actress against her ex-husband. nine0005

Were there any drugs?

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

At the preliminary hearing, the judge ruled that Depp violated a court order to provide the court with text messages indicating possible drug use.

Lawyers for NGN claim that messages sent by the actor in 2015 show that Depp was trying to get drugs during a trip to Australia with Heard. nine0005

According to the publication, during this trip, an episode of domestic violence allegedly took place against Hurd.

Depp's lawyer said the reports were irrelevant because the episode was not described in the publication.

"You Can Go Crazy"

The article came out with the headline: "You Can Go Crazy: How can J. K. Rowling genuinely be glad that Depp's domestic abuser will play in the new Fantastic Beasts movie?

Johnny Depp is 57 years old and was nominated for "Oscar" and "Bafta", and in 2008 received a "Golden Globe" for his role in the film "Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street".0005

Amber Heard is known for her roles in the films Aquaman and The Danish Girl.

Depp and Heard met while filming The Rum Diary in 2011 and got married in 2015.

In February 2015, after 15 months, the actress filed for divorce due to irreconcilable differences with Depp.

How such cases are handled in the UK

Analysis by Clive Coleman, BBC Legal Correspondent

someone has made a statement about you that either causes serious damage to your reputation or is capable of causing serious harm. nine0005

Image copyright, Reuters

Image caption,

A Los Angeles court issued a temporary protection order to Hurd in 2016 that prohibited Depp from approaching her

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There are four possible defenses against defamation. nine0005

First - if the statement is true.

The second - if it is not a statement of fact, but a sincere opinion.

Third - if the publication is justified because it is of public interest.

Fourth - if it is protected by the so-called privilege, when the court decides that the one who published the statement could have certain rights to it. (There is a list of situations in which lawyers, deputies, officials and citizens are granted such a privilege)

Libel suits are different from many other civil suits, such as breach of contract, where it is up to the suing plaintiff to prove the breach.

Learn more