The accusations were made public during Depp’s defamation trial against Heard over a Washington Post op-ed where she wrote that she was a domestic-abuse victim. During the trial, which is unfolding at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, Depp’s legal team of Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez claimed that Heard was instead violent in their marriage, which started in 2015 and lasted a year.
A spokesperson for Depp denied the sexual assault claims in a statement provided to Complex.
“These fictitious claims were never made at the onset of Amber’s allegations in 2016, and only advantageously surfaced years later once she was sued for defamation after noting in her op-ed that she was a victim of ‘sexual violence,’” the spokesperson said. “Words are key in a defamation case and conveniently, this allegation only came after that. This follows a pattern of her elaborate, erroneous claims which have continued to change and evolve over time for the purpose of Hollywood shock value of which Amber has mastered and used to exploit a serious social movement.”
Vasquez, during opening remarks, argued that “the only medical report of an injury during their relationship was a severe one sustained by Mr. Depp after an argument shortly after their marriage, while the couple was in Australia,” when Heard “threw a vodka bottle at him that hit his hand and exploded, severing the end of one of his fingers.”
In his opening, Heard’s attorney, Ben Rottenborn, argued that Depp wants to “turn this case into a six-week-long public spectacle of the most intimate aspects of their relationship and their marriage,” while Depp’s team said that the sexual assault claim “was never part of her allegations of abuse in 2016.”
“So, what changed? When she realized the seriousness of what she alleged [about being the victim of domestic abuse], she panicked and alleged sexual assault,” Vasquez said. “In Mr. Depp’s fifty-eight years, not a single woman has ever accused him of violence, and nobody in Hollywood or the world had any reason to believe he was an abuser – until Ms. Heard publicly accused him.”
Rottenborn, who read the op-ed during his opening argument, claimed that the case isn’t about “which party can sling more mud,” but that the jury is “going to hear a lot of that in this trial.” Heard’s team said that the trial will touch on a “three-day blackout in which he abused and sexually assaulted Amber.” Rottenborn also opened by describing Depp “kicking,” “punching,” and throwing objects at Heard, and said that video and photo evidence will be shown during the trial, per Fox News.
“You will hear in the most graphic and horrifying terms about the [sexual] violence that she suffered,” Rottenborn said. “You’ll hear that straight from her.”
As Rolling Stone reports, Chew and Vasquez took aim at Heard’s credibility by pointing to her claim during her 2019 trial that she donated her $7 million divorce settlement to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the ACLU, both of which reportedly did not receive their $3.5 million cuts.
The current suit follows the 2018 Washington Post op-ed and Depp’s accusation that, while he was not named in the piece, he took a hit to his reputation as a result. Depp previously lost a libel case in 2019 over The Sun referring to him as a “wife beater” in an article.
Additionally, Depp’s legal team claims they have video evidence of Heard’s sister throwing a “fake punch” at the actress in 2016—during the same week that she called police over a domestic abuse claim—and asked why a victim would joke with her sister on the same week of an abuse incident, per Fox. Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredhoft, on the other hand, called Depp “delusional” and “paranoid.”
“The evidence will show that six days after Mr. Depp’s request for a divorce, and three days after Ms. Heard’s lawyer threatened Mr. Depp with claims of abuse if he did not agree to her financial demands, Ms. Heard arrived at the courthouse in Los Angeles, California, to file for a restraining order for domestic abuse,” Depp’s lawyer Chew said. “You will hear from police officers who responded to a 911 call on May 21st, after Mr. Depp left, and saw no injuries on Ms. Heard… and you will hear that those officers determined there had been no violence and no crime.”