Speed Reads

depp v. heard

Johnny Depp is an 'obsessed ex-husband hellbent on revenge,' Amber Heard lawyers allege in opening statement

The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial has commenced in Virginia, and it opened with a claim of sexual assault against the Pirates of the Caribbean star. 

Opening statements in the defamation trial began Tuesday after Depp sued Heard, his ex-wife, over a 2018 op-ed she wrote about becoming a "public figure representing domestic abuse." Heard's lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, said jurors would see "who the real Johnny Depp" is, deeming him an "obsessed ex-husband hellbent on revenge." 

Rottenborn also said, though, that the "central issue" of the case is whether what Heard wrote in her Washington Post op-ed is speech protected by the First Amendment, even though Depp's "team is going to try to turn this case into a soap opera." The op-ed never mentions Depp's name, but his lawyers say readers would understand she was referring to him because she previously accused him of domestic violence. After reading the op-ed in court, Rottenborn said the piece was "not about Amber's relationship" with Depp. 

Tuesday's opening statements also included Heard's attorney alleging Depp sexually assaulted the actress. Lawyer Elaine Bredehoft described one incident in which Depp allegedly took "eight to 10 tablets of ecstasy," threw bottles at Heard, punched her, and "[penetrated] her with a liquor bottle." Depp's attorney noted the sexual assault claim was not part of her allegations of abuse in 2016, claiming Heard "panicked and alleged sexual assault" after she "realized the seriousness of what she alleged," per Rolling Stone

Depp attorney Ben Chew claimed Heard, who is a "profoundly troubled person," lied about her abuse allegations "for her own personal benefit," adding "this trial is about clearing Mr. Depp's name." 

Depp previously lost a separate defamation case after suing a British tabloid that referred to him as a "wife beater." The trial in Virginia is expected to last about six weeks.