Actress Amber Heard on Monday morning announced that she and her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, had finally reached a settlement in their long-running and dueling defamation case.
The Law&Crime Network’s Angenette Levy has learned that the terms of the settlement include Heard paying Depp $1 million.
UPDATE: A source familiar with the settlement tells me Heard has agreed to pay Depp $1 million. That’s a fraction of the $10.35 million she would have to have paid had she lost the appeal @LawCrimeNetwork
— Angenette Levy (@Angenette5) December 19, 2022
“It’s important for me to say that I never chose this,” a series of posts on the Aquaman star’s verified Instagram account reads. “I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed.”
In February 2019, Depp sued Heard over a Washington Post op-ed about domestic abuse published two months prior. The op-ed did not mention her ex-husband by name, but identified Heard as a victim of domestic abuse and, in the words of the lawsuit, relied “on the central premise” that “Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her.”
Well over two years of replies, motions, and various other court filings ensued. The legal drama culminated in particularly dramatic fashion in a Fairfax County, Virginia courtroom between April and June of this year. Televised internationally via the Law&Crime Network, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the under-oath allegations unfold.
The end result was not particularly favorable to Heard.
Jurors returned a $10.35 million defamation judgment against her; a separate $2 million judgment in her favor – the result of Depp’s attorney calling her claims a “hoax” – was minimized as a “token win.”
But the 36-year-old actress vowed to keep fighting the 59-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star by appealing the verdict.
Those efforts have now come to an end.
“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,” Depp’s attorneys Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez wrote in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement [sic] in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1M – which Mr. Depp is pledging and will donate to charities – reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”
In her Instagram posts, Heard called the decision to settle “very difficult” and that the choice came after “a great deal of deliberation.”
Far from contrite, the actress characterized the settlement as the only way out of a bad situation made increasingly worse by social media.
“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,” she wrote in one of the Instagram posts. “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.”
Depp and Heard were married in February 2015. She filed for divorce in May 2016 and obtained a temporary restraining order against him. At the time, she released a statement alleging “excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse” from Depp, who released a statement of his own, framing her abuse claims as the foundation of a money grab.
“I have made no admission,” Heard’s statement announcing the settlement continued. “This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”
Depp’s win in Virginia was a marked contrast from his previous experience in the United Kingdom.
In 2020, Depp lost a libel case against a British tabloid editor and publisher who alleged 14 different instances of violence perpetrated by Depp against Heard. In that case, a judge ruled The Sun had printed evidence that was substantial enough to sustain 12 out of those 14 allegations.
On Monday, Heard contrasted the two verdicts – and the concomitant court systems that produced them.
“I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder,” she wrote. “When I stood before a judge in the UK, I was vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media, and where the court found that I was subjected to domestic and sexual violence.”
Her statement goes on to say that she “exhausted” nearly all of her “resources” preparing for the U.S. trial and that, even if she were to continue with and win her appeal, the “best outcome” would be a new trial where she would have to testify again.
“I simply cannot go through that for a third time,” Heard wrote.
[images: Depp via Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images; Heard via Win McNamee/Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]