On Monday, Amber Heard announced on Instagram that she had settled the defamation suit she had filed against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. Heard, now 36, said it took “a great deal of deliberation” before she settled with Depp, 59.
“Let me be clear: I did not ask for this. Because I stood up for what I knew to be true, my entire world came crashing down around me. The harassment I’ve received online is a magnified version of how women are re-victimized after speaking out, Heard wrote.
For Heard, the settlement was the last resort that would allow her “to emancipate me from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to.”
I have not admitted anything. That’s not a sign of giving in at all. She continued, “From this point forward, I am free to use my voice however I see fit no gag orders have been placed.”
It was announced in a statement released by Depp’s lawyers that Heard would be paying Depp $1 million to end their legal dispute. We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process his intent to bring the truth to light,” the attorneys added.
Money was never the issue, the statement went on to say. The jury’s verdict and judgment in his favor of Ms. Heard stand, and the $1 million she paid to settle the case shows that she accepts the rigor with which the legal system pursues justice.
Despite what Heard wrote in her statement, a source close to Depp said the judgment against her can still be used against her if she were to make false or defamatory allegations in the future.
According to the same source, Depp has promised to donate the money he receives from Heard to several organizations that he has yet to reveal.
The legal team and representatives for Heard have been contacted by NBC News for comment.
Settlement Follows a Contentious, Weekslong Trial
Heard settled months after a televised trial lasted for weeks and concluded with jurors finding that she had defamed Depp by claiming, in an op-ed for The Washington Post in 2018, that Depp had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Amber Heard settles defamation case against Johnny Depp https://t.co/sjIPUy38re
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 19, 2022
Though Depp was never mentioned by name, his attorneys claim the essay referenced the allegations she made against him during their divorce in 2016. She claimed she was the victim of a s*xual assault and other acts of physical abuse during her testimony at the trial. Depp has repeatedly refuted abuse allegations.
While the trial was going on, social media posts overwhelmingly seemed to side with Depp. It was more challenging to find content defending Heard on the internet, with many viral videos and memes mocking her. Several content creators on the web have voiced concerns that the dynamics of the online response to the trial have been toxic for victims of domestic violence.
Last month, major national feminist organisations came to Heard’s defense, alleging in a letter (first reported by NBC News) that the vilification and harassment of Heard and her supporters were “unprecedented in both vitriol and scale,” marking one of the largest public shows of support for Heard after the verdict.
Depp received a total of $15 million from the jury (10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages), while Heard received $2 million in compensatory damages but no punitive damages at all. The settlement came about because of Heard’s appeal of the verdict.
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard settle defamation appeals https://t.co/0mEDy4njPp
— CP24 (@CP24) December 19, 2022
After losing a libel case in the UK two years ago over allegations of physical abuse against Heard, the jury’s decision was a legal vindication for Depp. In 2020, Justice Andrew Nicol ruled against Depp, citing evidence from a British tabloid that Depp had been violent toward Heard on 12 out of 14 occasions.
‘Lost Faith in the American Legal System’
In her statement, Heard contrasted the U.K. court proceedings with those in the U.S., writing that she has “lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.”
According to Heard, the British legal system “vindicated me by finding that I was subjected to domestic and s*xual violence, and by protecting me from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media.”
Unfortunately, she said she “exhausted almost all of my resources in advance of and during a trial in which I was subject to a courtroom in which abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process.”
“In the meantime, I experienced a form of shame that I cannot revisit.” Heard claimed she could now spend her time more “productively and purposefully” after the case was settled. Too much time and money have been wasted on a legal system that has repeatedly failed to protect me and my right to free expression.
I can’t take the chance of an unpayable bill, she wrote, “one that includes not only money but also my mental and physical health. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women to experience abuse or financial ruin simply for speaking their truth.
Finally, Heard thanked her supporters and her lawyers for their work on the case, and she vowed that she “will not be threatened, disheartened, or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth.” It’s something that “no one can and will take from me,” she penned. “My voice will always be my most prized possession.”
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