Johnny Depp’s lawyers challenge Amber Heard over abuse allegations

(Reuters) – Lawyers for actor Johnny Depp began questioning Amber Heard in a couple’s defamation trial on Monday, challenging the “Aquaman” star’s allegations that she was physically assaulted before and during their short marriage.

Depp’s lawyers provided photos of Heard appearing in public on red carpets and the “James Corden Show” shortly after the times she said Depp hit her with his hands, which he usually wore heavy rings.

It appeared that the photographs shown to the jury did not reveal any injuries. Heard said the damage, which included what she thought was a broken nose, wasn’t severe enough to appear or was covered in makeup.

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Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million, saying she discredited him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic violence. Heard opposed the $100 million, arguing that Depp sullied her by calling her a savage.

At the beginning of Heard’s questioning, Depp’s attorney asked Heard if she had wronged Depp and made false allegations against him.

“I can’t hurt Johnny,” Heard said.

Earlier, Heard told jurors that she filed for divorce from Depp in 2016 because she was afraid that she would not survive the physical abuse by him. She said she realized the relationship was beyond repair after he threw a cell phone that hit her in the face.

“I knew I had to leave him,” she said. “I knew I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t.

“I have made the decision to file for divorce,” she added. “It was hard because I loved Johnny so much.”

The couple married in February 2015 and their divorce was finalized about two years later.

Depp testified that he never hit Heard and argued that she was the abusive in their relationship. He said she threw a vodka bottle at him in early 2015, cutting the top of his right middle finger.

Heard said she did not injure her finger and said she only hit it to defend herself or her sister.

She also denied Depp’s allegations that she left poo in a bed in one of his homes after a fight on her birthday. A security guard tested that Heard told him that the stool was a “horrible practical joke”.

Heard said she did not commit any prank that day, adding that she “was not in a state of a joke.”

“I was just attacked on my 30th birthday by my husband, with whom I was so in love and knew I needed to leave,” she said.

The lawsuit centers around a December 2018 op-ed by Heard that appeared in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his attorney told jurors that Heard was clearly referring him. Read more

Depp, who was once one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Heard’s allegations cost him “everything”. The new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie has been put on hold, and Depp is replaced in the Fantastic Beasts series, a spin-off called “Harry Potter.”

Heard’s lawyers argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected by free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a defamation case against the British tabloid The Sun which called him a “wife beater”. A London High Court judge ruled that he repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp’s attorneys filed the case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.

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(Reporting by Lisa Richwin in Los Angeles) Editing by Mark Porter, Jonathan Otis and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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