Washington [US], April 13 (ANI): The recent opening statements in Hollywood actor Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's defamation lawsuits featured echoes of their 2016 bitter divorce and a similar 2020 libel case in London.
Depp had sued Heard over a 2018 op-ed she wrote about surviving domestic violence, though she never mentioned him by name in the article.
According to People magazine, during the libel trial, which is expected to last about six weeks, inside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, Heard's lawyers accused her ex-husband, Depp, of sexual assault as the actor set out to prove defamation charges against her.
Heard's attorney Ben Rottenborn said evidence will show that she suffered domestic abuse by Depp that "took many forms," including physical, emotional, verbal and psychological.
Rottenborn, while discussing the headline used for the online version of Heard's op-ed, explained that she did not write that headline herself or get to approve it.
The headline read, "Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence -- and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."
However, the attorney claimed Heard has indeed been the victim of sexual violence by Depp.
The attorney then listed a time when Depp allegedly had a three-day, alcohol-fueled blackout while in Australia in 2015 toward the end of their marriage, when he "abused and sexually assaulted Amber, all because she had the courage to confront him about his drinking."
Addressing this new allegation, Depp's spokesperson said, "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.'"
"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," they added.
In Depp's opening statement, his lawyer, Camille Vasquez, had claimed that these "false allegations" were made by Heard to boost her career in light of the #MeToo movement at the time.
He stated that Heard added sexual assault to a list of allegations because she "panicked" when she realized the "seriousness of what she'd alleged" and couldn't back down from her notoriety as a survivor.
Vasquez added that Heard's lawyers would be sharing "explosive" stories "designed" to "distract" from "common sense."
The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star and 'Aquaman' actor were married in February 2015 and confirmed their split in May 2016.
After filing for divorce later that month, Heard filed a domestic violence restraining order against Depp and brought photographic evidence of the alleged abuse she suffered, as per US magazine.
Depp originally filed the USD 50 million lawsuit in March 2019, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.
Back in November 2020, Depp lost his highly publicized U.K. libel lawsuit case against British tabloid The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater."
The court upheld the outlet's claims as being "substantially true" and Heard testified to back up the claims. In March 2021, his attempt to overturn the decision was overruled. (ANI)