The verdict is in, and it’s strangely fitting: Everybody lost.
On Wednesday afternoon, a jury came to the conclusion that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard had defamed each other after a livestreamed trial that was as long as it was disturbing. In the end, the jury awarded Depp $10.35 million of the $50 million he sought from his ex-wife over the 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” They awarded Heard $2 million of the $100 million she sought when she counter-sued him.
Beyond the difference in amounts, the person who lost the most in this trial is Amber Heard. Heard, whose life has been on hold for the last four years while her ex-husband doggedly pursued her and dragged her through courts on both sides of the Atlantic. Heard, who has been painted online as a conniving villain despite a British High Court judge concluding in 2020 that she “was the victim of sustained and multiple assaults by Mr. Depp.” Heard, who survived an obviously excruciating marriage, only to become the subject of excruciating public ridicule.
It’s clear that Depp’s regular reliance on alcohol and drugs made their situation at home hellish. Heard, unfortunately, did not react to that difficult set of circumstances in the way the world expects (or wants) to see from a woman experiencing abuse. She didn’t cower. Instead, she lost her temper, she mocked him, and (as she admitted in one infamous recording) she hit him.
Amber Heard’s biggest crime of all, probably, was repeatedly lying about donating her $7 million divorce settlement. (She donated $1.3 million, but not all of that came directly from her.) Because of that lie, an assumption took hold that Depp couldn’t possibly have assaulted Heard in the ways she described. (And make no mistake, her testimony about those alleged assaults has often been harrowing.) Apparently, in the court of public opinion, if you lie about one thing, you must be lying about everything—even credible abuse claims backed by a mountain of photos and messages.