Actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have settled their defamation case, which Heard summed up as “a very difficult decision” and a result of her having “lost faith in the American legal system.”
Heard agreed to pay her former husband $1 million in the settlement, according to Depp’s legal team ― a significant drop from the $15 million in damages that a Virginia court ruled against the actor in June.
“It’s important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed,” Heard wrote in a message posted to Instagram Monday.
Attorneys for Depp told HuffPost in a statement that they are pleased with the case’s closure and that the judgment against Heard remains “fully in place.” This payment “reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice,” said attorneys Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez.
The $1 million will be donated to charity, according to Depp’s attorneys.
A source close to Depp told HuffPost the funds will be paid through Heard’s insurance.
Depp sued Heard for defamation over a 2018 Washington Post opinion article in which she identified herself as a domestic abuse victim. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has denied Heard’s allegations of abuse.
While Heard was ordered to pay damages to her ex-husband ― which her attorneys recently appealed ― she was also awarded $2 million in compensatory damages for a statement made by an attorney for Depp that she said was defamatory.
Heard said Monday that the settlement does not prevent her from being able to speak freely, though the Depp source told HuffPost that the judgment can still be used against her if she continues to repeat her abuse allegations.
“I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward,” Heard wrote.
The “Aquaman” actor said that settling the case was a kind of last resort; even if she were able to successfully appeal, she said she wouldn’t want to subject herself to a re-trial.
“I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill — one that is not just financial, but also psychological, physical and emotional,” she wrote. “Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it is not uncommon.”
The former couple faced a sensational weekslong trial that saw their personal lives splayed across global television screens, ridiculed on social media and widely used as entertainment.
Heard compared the experience to a previous trial that took place in the U.K. over a tabloid headline calling Depp a “wife beater.” That trial ended in 2020 with the court determining that Heard had been abused by Depp, as she claimed.
“When I stood before a judge in the UK, I was vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media, and where the court found that I was subjected to domestic and sexual violence,” she wrote.
Heard said that her experience in the U.S., by comparison, left her shattered and distrusting of her country’s legal system.
Now that the legal battle is behind her, she said she wants to spend her time “productively and purposefully.” Heard did not offer any additional details about her plans but said that she will turn attention “to the work that helped me heal after my divorce,” which she said makes her “feel seen, heard and believed, and in which I know I can effect change.”