Officially the end. Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have settled their Virginia defamation lawsuit following a high-profile legal battle.
“After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia,” the Aquaman actress, 36, wrote in an Instagram statement uploaded on Monday, December 19. “It’s important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed.”
Heard continued: “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. 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. I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”
The Texas native claimed that she “lost faith in the American legal system” due to her lengthy back and forth with Depp, 59, arguing that her “unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.” She compared her differing experiences in the U.K. and U.S. courts, alleging that “abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded” from the Virginia trial.
“In the interim I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-live,” she wrote. “Even if my US appeal is successful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence again. I simply cannot go through that a third time.”
In June, a jury sided with the Pirates of the Caribbean actor after a weeks-long deliberation. Depp won $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, the latter of which was later reduced to $350,000 due to Virginia state law. Heard, meanwhile, was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” the Drive Angry actress noted in a statement to Us Weekly after the verdict. “I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband. I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.”
Depp, for his part, said in a statement of his own that he felt “overwhelmed” by the “love and the colossal support and kindness” he received from fans throughout the trial. “Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that,” he added.
Two months later, Heard revamped her legal team. The Edward Scissorhands actor filed an appeal in November arguing that he should not be forced to pay his ex-wife the court-ordered damages. Heard’s lawyers submitted a separate appeal claiming there were errors made in the Virginia trial.
While discussing the settlement on Monday, the Never Back Down star asserted that she wants to “spend [her] time productively and purposefully” after feeling “caged in an arduous and expensive legal process” for years. “I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill — one that is not just financial, but also psychological, physical and emotional,” she wrote via Instagram. “Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it is not uncommon.”
Heard and Depp were married from 2015 to 2017. The Finding Neverland actor sued his ex-wife in 2019 after she published an op-ed describing her experience as a survivor of domestic violence. Heard did not name her former spouse anywhere in the article, and the Kentucky native has repeatedly maintained his innocence. (Depp unsuccessfully sued The Sun in 2018 after the publication called him a “wife beater” in relation to Heard’s op-ed.)
The Magic Mike XXL actress made it clear on Monday that she hopes to continue advocating for victims of abuse. “I will not be threatened, disheartened or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth,” she wrote. “No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have. … Any survivor knows that the ability to tell their story often feels like the only relief, and I cannot find enough words to tell you the hope your belief in me inspires, not just for me, but for all of you.”
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