Johnny Depp’s lawyers challenge Amber Heard over abuse claims

May 16 (Reuters) – Lawyers for actor Johnny Depp began their questioning of Amber Heard in the couple’s defamation lawsuit Monday, challenging the “Aquaman” star’s claims that she was physically assaulted before and during their short marriage.

Depp’s lawyers introduced photos of Heard publicly appearing on red carpets and “The James Corden Show” shortly after she said Depp had beaten her with his hands, on which he usually wore heavy rings.

The photos shown to the judges did not appear to reveal any injuries. Heard said the damage, which included what she thought was a broken nose, was not severe enough to be visible or was covered by makeup.

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Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million for defaming him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic violence. Heard has sued for $100 million, arguing that Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.

At the beginning of Heard’s cross-examination, a lawyer for Depp asked Heard if she had abused Depp and further harmed him with false accusations.

“I could never hurt Johnny,” Heard said.

Previously, Heard told jurors that she filed for divorce from Depp in 2016 because she feared she would not survive physical abuse from 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 has testified that he never hit Heard and claimed she was the abuser in their relationship. He said she threw a bottle of vodka at him in early 2015 and cut off the top of his right middle finger.

Heard said she didn’t cause the finger wound and said she only hit him to defend herself or her sister.

She also denied Depp’s claim that she left feces in a bed at one of his homes after an argument on her birthday. A guard testified that Heard told him the feces was a “terrible joke.”

Heard said she hadn’t joked that day, adding that she was “not in a joking mood.”

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

The lawsuit revolves 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 the jurors it was clear that Heard was referring to him. read more

Depp, once one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Heard’s accusations cost him “everything”. A new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was put on hold and Depp was replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” movie franchise, a spin-off of “Harry Potter”.

Heard’s attorneys have argued that she was telling the truth and that her opinion protected free speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel suit against The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “woman beater.” A London Supreme Court judge ruled that he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp’s attorneys have filed the case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because that’s where the Washington Post is located. The newspaper is not a culprit.

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Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles Editing by Mark Porter, Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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