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Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case, Judge Rules He Assaulted Ex-Wife Amber Heard

Johnny Depp
Source: Joel Ryan/AP/Shutterstock

Nov. 5 2020, Updated 10:51 a.m. ET

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Actor Johnny Depp lost his libel case against Britain's The Sun newspaper after they called him a “wife beater” in 2018, after a tumultuous relationship with ex-wife Amber HeardUs Weekly confirmed on Monday, November 2.

Judge Andrew Nicol from the Royal Courts of Justice in London ruled that the publication's allegation was “substantially true,” according to court documents obtained by Us Weekly. In his 129-page judgment, Nicol also wrote that there was sufficient evidence that the Pirates of the Caribbean actor, 57, had physically assaulted Heard, 34, at least 12 of the 14 times she claimed he did.

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“I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her. They must have been terrifying,” the judge wrote. “I accept that Mr. Depp put her in fear of her life.”

Nicol also stated that Heard's allegations “have had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist." Previously, the actress said that she was “subjected to a campaign of targeted online abuse on social media as well as online petitions calling for her to be removed from any future sequel to Aquaman and from her association with L’Oréal," according to her witness statement from March.

Heard alleged that Depp struck her multiple times. He denied the allegations and accused her of having hit him. While speaking to the court, Heard recounted this 2015 incident and explained she was protecting her sister, Whitney Heard, claiming her ex tried to shove Whitney down a flight of stairs.

Depp and Heard first met in 2009 on the set of The Rum Diary and tied the knot in 2015. She filed for divorce in 2016 and obtained a temporary restraining order against the actors which was ultimately dropped. After their divorce was finalized in 2017, Heard donated the $7 million settlement to various charities.

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Following Judge Nichol's ruling, Heard's lawyer, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, told the New York Times that judgment was “not a surprise” and that she is “committed to obtaining justice” in the United States, where Heard and Depp are set to appear in court over a Washington Post op-ed she wrote in December 2018. In a statement to ReutersDepp's British law firm, Schillings, called the judgement "as perverse as it is bewildering."

“The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr. Depp not to appeal this decision,” the statement read.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential support.

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