Amber Heard Pays $1M to Settle Case Against Depp: ‘I Never Chose This’

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Amber Heard on Monday announced the “very difficult decision to settle” the highly publicized multimillion-dollar defamation case by her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

“It is important for me to say I never chose this,” Heard said in an Instagram post. “I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed.”

The news comes months after a televised seven-week trial, in which jurors found that Heard defamed Depp after she identified herself as a domestic abuse survivor in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. She was ordered to pay over $10 million in damages. The Virginia jury also awarded the Aquaman actress $2 million in compensatory damages after finding she was defamed when Depp’s ex-attorney, Adam Waldman, falsely described her domestic violence claims as a “hoax.”

Legal teams from both sides had been discussing how to avoid another trial after Heard filed to appeal the Virginia verdict. Her decision to withdraw that appeal after settling out of court effectively ends the case that spurred online fervor over the summer.

A source close to Depp told The Daily Beast that Heard agreed to pay her ex-husband $1 million to end the case, a deal that allows her to avoid paying the full $10 million. Heard’s team did not immediately respond for comment.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Depp’s lawyers said they were “pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light.”

“The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp's favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place,” Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez said in the statement.

“The payment of $1M—which Mr. Depp is pledging and will donate to charities—reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”

In announcing the settlement, Heard slammed the “vilification” that she faced on social media during the trial, which was meticulously documented and caricatured by legions of Depp fans. She said that what she endured online was “an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimized when they come forward” with allegations of sexual and domestic violence, and the settlement was an opportunity to “emancipate” herself from the case on her own terms.

Still, the actress—who was also accused of domestic violence during the trial—insisted that her decision to settle was not “an act of concession” or an admission of guilt.

“There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward,” she said, adding that she made the decision after losing faith in a legal system that saw her “unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.”

Throughout the trial, both actors described vastly different aspects of their relationship, which began on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary. After they married in Feb. 2015, the two described becoming victims of physical abuse from the other—including a harrowing trip to Australia. In May 2016, Heard filed for a temporary restraining order after an incident at their downtown Los Angeles apartment, where the actress told jurors that Depp threw a phone at her.

In Nov. 2020, a London judge ruled there was “overwhelming evidence” that Depp had assaulted Heard repeatedly throughout their marriage, and that she was “in fear of her life.” The ruling came after Depp filed a libel case against The Sun for calling him a “wife beater.”

Heard on Monday said that during the U.K. trial, she was “vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media, and where the court found that I was subjected to domestic and sexual violence.”

In comparison, she said that the Virginia case “exhausted almost all my resources in advance of and during a trial” that excluded key evidence “and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process.”

She said that in the interim, she suffered “a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-live” and that even if her appeal was successful, “the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider” the same evidence again.

“I simply cannot go through that for a third time,” she added. “I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill—one that is not just financial, but also psychological, physical and emotional.”

“Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it is not uncommon,” she added. As previously reported by The Daily Beast, Heard and her legal time implied during the trial that she did not have the immediate funds to pay her ex-husband’s judgment.

By settling her case, Heard said she is choosing the freedom and time to help herself heal and move forward.

“I will not be threatened, disheartened or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth,” she added, before thanking her supporters and legal team. “No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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