Johnny Depp's ex-wife, Amber Heard, will return to the witness stand on Monday in a defamation trial filled with graphic allegations of physical and emotional abuse from both sides.
Jurors in the case have listened to explicit recordings of the couple’s arguments and testimony about a severed finger, faeces in a bed and an alleged sexual assault with a bottle.
Mr Depp (58) is suing Heard (36) for €47.9 million ($50 million), saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has counter-sued for €95.9 million ($100 million), arguing Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star testified that he never hit Ms Heard and argued that she was the abuser in their relationship. In early 2015 shortly after their wedding, Ms Heard threw a vodka bottle that cut off the top of Mr Depp’s right middle finger, he said.
In April 2016, Mr Depp said, faeces were found in the couple’s bed. One of his security guards testified that Ms Heard told him the faeces were left there as a “horrible practical joke gone wrong”.
Ms Heard, best known for her role in Aquaman, has denied severing Mr Depp’s finger and said she only hit him to defend herself or her sister. In tearful testimony about that night, she said Mr Depp assaulted her by inserting a liquor bottle in her vagina while he threatened to kill her.
Ms Heard has not yet been cross-examined by Mr Depp’s lawyers.
The legal case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece Ms Heard authored in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Mr Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Ms Heard was referencing him. The couple’s divorce was finalised in 2017 after less than two years of marriage.
Mr Depp, once among Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Ms Heard’s allegations cost him “everything”. A new Pirates of the Caribbean movie was put on hold, and Mr Depp was replaced in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, a Harry Potter spin-off.
Ms Heard’s attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the US constitution’s First Amendment.
Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27th.
Less than two years ago, Mr Depp lost a libel case against the Sun, a British tabloid that labelled him a “wife beater”. A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Ms Heard.
Mr Depp's lawyers filed the case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant. – Reuters