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Amber Heard settles in Johnny Depp defamation trial

"I have made no admission, this is not an act of concession," Amber Heard says in a statement on her settlement

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Amber Heard
Amber Heard
Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

Months after the verdict of the Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp trial was handed down, Heard has now agreed to step away from her appeal and settle. In a statement, Heard attests that her settlement is not a concession, but the result of facing constant harassment as well as a tiresome and expensive legal process.

“After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia. 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 says in a lengthy Instagram post.

Heard continues, “The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimized when they come forward. Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to. 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. I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.”

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On June 1, 2022, the jury ruled that Depp and Heard had defamed one another following the publishing of Heard’s Washington Post op-ed in 2019. Heard was ordered to pay Depp $15 million in damages, while Depp was ordered to pay $2 million to Heard. Both Depp and Heard filed appeals concerning the decision, with Depp’s still playing out in the courts.

In the statement, Heard also reflects on her experience in the U.S. courts compared to the U.K. legal system. In 2020, Depp sued tabloid publication The Sun for referring to him as a “wife beater” in a piece. Heard testified in the defamation trial as a key witness, which ruled in favor of The Sun.

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Heard’s full statement on the settlement continues below:

When I took before a judge in the U.K., 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. In the U.S., however, I exhausted almost all my resources in advance of and during a trial in which I was subject to a courtroom in which abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process. In the interim I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-live. Even if my U.S. appeal is successful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence again. I simply cannot go through that for a third time.

Time is precious, and I want to spend my time productively and purposefully. For too many years I have been caged in an arduous and expensive legal process, which has shown itself unable to protect me and my right to free speech. I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill – one that is not just financial but also psychological, physical and emotional. Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it is not uncommon.

In settling this case I’m also choosing the freedom to dedicate my time to the work that helped me heal after my divorce; work that exists in realms in which I feel seen, heard and believed and in which I know I can effect change.

I will not be threatened, disheartened, or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth. No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.

I’d like to thank my outstanding appellate and original trial teams for their relentless hard work. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and I turn my attention to the growing support that I felt and seen publicly in the months since trial, and the efforts have been made to show solidarity with my story. Any survivor knows that the ability to tell their story often feels like the only relief. I cannot find enough words to tell you the hope your belief in me inspires. Not just for me, but for all of you.

Thank you. See you soon.”

In response to the settlement, Depp and his lawyers released the following statement, per Deadline:

We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light. The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1M—which Mr. Depp is pledging and will (actually) donate to charities—reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”