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The Outcome of the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp Verdict Isn’t a Victory For Anyone

The headlines on Wednesday, June 1 all proclaimed Johnny Depp’s win in court in his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard. But after six weeks of a circus courtroom offering up insider details into a very toxic relationship, it doesn’t feel like there are any winners here. The trial showed off the worst of society as the court case took on an almost campy feel with talk shows, comedians, and even Saturday Night Live trivializing what’s really at stake here: the seriousness of domestic violence.

We’re not putting all of this on Depp; but in the face of an internet eager to pin everything on Heard, it’s important to remind ourselves of the facts — not the TikTok narratives. The Pirates of the Caribbean star and Heard described their marriage in their breakup statement in 2016 as “intensely passionate and at times volatile.” Read between the lines on that — it wasn’t a healthy relationship. It was fraught with emotional, verbal, and physical abuse on both sides. Heard obviously struggled with mental health issues, which became a hot topic for several witnesses testifying on the stand, and Depp’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction was also noted as a part of his fall from Hollywood’s A-list actors.

Depp lost his libel case against UK publication The Sun over calling him a “wife-beater;” the courts ruled in 2020 that the paper was not wrong to do so. Now, he feels vindicated by today’s results ruling that Heard did in fact defame him with her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being the “public face of domestic abuse.” The verdict also sends $15 million his way ($10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages) for libel. Heard was also awarded $2 million in her countersuit against the Pirates of the Caribbean actor, for compensatory damages. Depp’s attorney was ruled to have defamed Heard with statements he made about her abuse claims.

Depp already put out a statement sharing that “the jury gave me my life back,” per Deadline, and the entertainment industry rehabilitation of the actor has already kicked off as he joins musician Jeff Beck onstage in London. Heard’s statement sees her reflecting on her “disappointment” in the verdict, specifically, that “the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” per The Hollywood Reporter.

It’s unclear what is next for either actor, but the consequences of this case will ripple far beyond either of their reputations. Both Depp and Heard were found guilty of defamation today, but Heard was found guilty in the court of public opinion weeks ago — and far less rich and famous survivors will suffer as a result.

Before you go, click here to see the most important celebrity lawsuits over the past 15 years.

Kelly Clarkson

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