Amber Heard’s sister Whitney has stood by her sibling after Johnny Depp won his defamation lawsuit against the actress.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean actor, 58, filed a $50million (£39m) lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber, 36 – who he was married to from 2015 before Amber filed for divorce in 2016 – over an article she wrote in the Washington Post in 2018, discussing her experience with domestic abuse.
His legal team argued that it implied he was physically and sexually abusive during their relationship, despite not being named in the op-ed. Amber countersued for $100m (£79m) in return. After a six-week trial – which saw Whitney testify on the stand – and 13 hours of deliberation, a jury ruled in favour of Johnny last Wednesday, awarding him $10m (£7m) in compensatory damages and a further $5m (£3.9) in punitive damages, bringing a total of $15m (£11m).
Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the actor’s $5m punitive damages to instead award $350,000 (£278K), the maximum in Virginia, while Johnny also has to pay Amber the $2m (£1.5m) in compensatory damages she was awarded, so he, therefore, walks away with $8.35m (£6.6m) in overall damages.
Speaking out for the first time following the verdict, Whitney shared her pride for Amber ‘standing up’ for herself and being a ‘voice of so many who can’t speak’.
In a lengthy Instagram statement shared on Sunday, Whitney wrote: ‘I still stand with you, sissy. Yesterday, today and tomorrow I will always be proud of you for standing up for yourself, for testifying both here in Virginia and in the UK, and for being the voice of so many who can’t speak to the things that happen behind closed doors.
‘We knew that this was going to be an uphill battle and that the cards were stacked against us. But you stood up and spoke out regardless.’
She added she was ‘honoured’ to testify for Amber, and said she ‘would do it a million times over’, writing: ‘Because I know what I saw and because the truth is forever on your side.’
The statement went on: ‘I’m so sorry that it wasn’t reflected in the decision made by this jury, but I will never give up on you, and neither will anyone who stands with you. Forever by your side…’
She added the tag #istandwithamberheard, which was also reflected in the image shared on the platform along with the caption.
Whitney had testified in the afternoon of day 18 of the bombshell case, held at the Fairfax County Courthouse, and recalled an alleged argument the couple had, while also alleging Johnny ‘joked about putting their dog in the microwave’.
Amber’s lawyer has since revealed that she is ‘absolutely not’ able to pay the $8million in damages to her ex-husband.
Appearing on the Today Show to discuss the verdict, Elaine Bredehoft slammed the result as a ‘setback’ for women who have spoken out against domestic abuse.
When asked if the Aquaman actress – who was awarded $2m in her countersuit – would be able to pay the damages, the attorney replied: ‘Oh no, absolutely not.’
Bredehoft also said that the actress will ‘absolutely’ be appealing the verdict, telling the host: ‘She has excellent grounds for it.
‘We had even tried to get the UK judgement in to dismiss his case, because he already had his shot, and that’s one of the issues. But also a number of the evidentiary issues, there was so much evidence that did not come in.
‘The court found there, and we weren’t allowed to tell the jury this, but the court found that Mr Depp had committed at least 12 acts of domestic violence, including sexual violence, against Amber.
‘We had an enormous amount of evidence that was suppressed in this case, that was in the UK case.’
Bredehoft insisted that Amber was ‘demonised’ over the ‘zoo’ case on social media, describing the ‘lop-sided’ reaction as ‘horrible’.
‘One of the first things she said is, I am so sorry to all those women out there,’ she said of Amber’s reaction to the result. ‘This is a setback. For all women in and outside the courtroom. And she feels the burden of that.
‘It’s a horrible message. It’s a setback, a significant setback because that’s exactly what it means.
‘Unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively, you won’t be believed.’
Reacting to the verdict moments after leaving court, Amber said in a statement: ‘The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.
‘I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.’
She continued: ‘I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.
‘I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly.’
Johnny skipped the court appearance to party in the UK, and added in his own statement: ‘Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.
‘All in the blink of an eye. False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
‘And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.’
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