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Amber Heard’s Sister Acknowledges That She ‘Regrettably’ Joked with Johnny Depp About Domestic Abuse

Whitney Henriquez

Amber Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez testifies in the Johnny Depp defamation trial.

Amber Heard’s sister ruefully acknowledged on Wednesday that she sent Johnny Depp a text message joking about domestic abuse. The admission came after sister Whitney Henriquez depicted Depp as an alcohol consuming and drug-addled abuser who denigrated Heard, “hurled” a “steak knife” at an assistant and physically struck both siblings.

“Notwithstanding that, in June 2013, you were actually joking with Mr. Depp about hitting your sister, right?” Depp’s attorney asked her.

“Regrettably over a text message, yes,” sister Whitney Henriquez replied.

“That you were encouraging him to hit her,” the lawyer pressed.

“I was not literally encouraging him to hit her,” Henriquez added.

“But you were joking about it?”

“Regrettably, yes.”


When trial begin a little more than a month ago, Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew kicked off opening statements by claiming that Henriquez was caught on surveillance footage throwing a “fake punch” at her sister. Depp’s childhood friend Isaac Baruch claimed to have witnessed the incident, invoked by the Pirates of Caribbean star to suggest that the abuse allegations were fabricated.

Neither Depp nor Heard’s attorneys asked about the alleged pantomime, but one of Depp’s lawyers brought up the text as an example of Henriquez’s lightheartedness. The message was dated some two years before Depp and Heard married.

“I did not have an understanding fully of what that was,” Henriquez said. “I never would have said that now knowing what I know.”

Henriquez previously testified that she suspected Depp was physically abusive that same year, though she said she doesn’t remember if that was around the time of the text.

Less than two years after that message, Depp and Heard got married in 2015. The couple split the next year, when Heard filed for a restraining order, and their divorce became official in 2017.

In December 2018, Heard alluded to her domestic abuse allegations in a Washington Post editorial, which did not mention Depp by name. Depp sued anyway, claiming Heard defamed him by implication. Heard countersued after Depp’s attorney labeled her allegations a “hoax.”

Henriquez said that she personally observed Depp drunk “countless” times and high on drugs “a lot.” She acknowledged that she personally used cocaine and drank alcohol with him on a number of occasions. Heard has said that drug use brought out the “monster” in Depp, language that the Pirates of the Caribbean star used for his addiction.

When Depp was high or intoxicated, Henriquez said, he would say “horrible” things about her sister, calling her a “f***ing c*nt,” “used up trash bag,” and a “slimy saggy whore.”

“Just horrible things,” Henriquez testified.

Describing Depp as frequently jealous, Henriquez said that he accused Heard of having an affair in March 2015. Depp allegedly ran up the stars and hit Henriquez in the back, causing Heard to scream: “Don’t hit my f***ing sister,” according to her testimony. That came to be known as the “staircase incident,” an event credited by a U.K. judge who found it fair to call Heard a “wife beater.”

Henriquez said that Depp asked her to sign a non-disclosure agreement after the staircase incident.


“Basically, my understanding is it’s a contract to keep things private, to keep your mouth shut, essentially,” Henriquez noted, adding later that she didn’t believe she signed it.

“I left sometime after,” she said.

Depp claims that he is the victim of Heard’s abuse, and she has admitted to hitting him on tape and in her testimony. Heard says those blows were defensive, and Henriquez says that characterization of her claims as a “hoax” have “devastated” her. Henriquez said Heard has had panic attacks, lost sleep and broke down in tears.

Other than the staircase incident, Henriquez acknowledged, she never witnessed Depp’s alleged abuse. She was the only live witness on Wednesday, a day filled with testimony mostly by video depositions from her friend Raquel “Rocky” Pennington, Pennington’s former fiancé Josh Drew, makeup artist Melanie Inglessis, and acting coach Kristy Sexton.

(Screenshot from the Law&Crime Network)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."