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Johnny Depp in court says he has never struck any woman in his life

Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard after <em>The Washington Post</em> published her opinion piece, which Depp's lawyers say falsely implies that she was physically and sexually abused by Depp when the actors were married.
Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard after The Washington Post published her opinion piece, which Depp's lawyers say falsely implies that she was physically and sexually abused by Depp when the actors were married.

Actor Johnny Depp wasted no time after taking the stand in court on Tuesday, saying that "never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck any woman in my life."

Depp was in a Virginia court Tuesday afternoon to testify in his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp is suing the actress for more than $50 million, saying her claims of domestic abuse have harmed his career and reputation.

Heard, 35, has filed a countersuit against Depp, 58, seeking $100 million in damages and saying his legal team falsely accused her of fabricating claims against Depp.

Depp on Tuesday said Heard's "untrue" accusations that she had been a victim of domestic abuse "permeated the industry," eventually becoming global news and in many circles have been accepted as fact.

"I'm obsessed with the truth so today is my first opportunity that I've been able to speak about this case in full for the first time," Depp told the court. "I felt a responsibility of clearing the record."

Depp shares details about his early relationship with Heard

"In the beginning of my relationship with Ms. Heard, it was, from what I recall and what I remember, she was ... too good to be true," Depp said. "She was attentive, loving; she was smart, she was kind, she was funny, she was understanding."

They did have arguments, he admitted, but overall, he described the relationship as "amazing." They developed touching rituals, including a sort of welcome-home routine.

"I would come in the house or hotel, and she would sit me down on the couch and give me a glass of wine, and take my boots off, set them to the side," he recalled. "And I'd never experienced anything like that in my life."

But Depp said he came home one day and when realizing Heard was busy, he removed his own shoes. According to Depp, Heard became "visibly shaken or upset" that he had broken the rules of the routine.

"I thought that was strange," he said, adding that from that moment on, he began noticing other changes. "Within a year or year and half, she had become another person, almost."

Depp talked about his drug use

Depp also sought to clarify reports that he suffers — or least did at the time of his relationship to Heard — from deep-seated issues with drugs and alcohol.

On Tuesday, he recounted how it began as a child, when he'd sneak his mother's "nerve pills" at age 11.

"It was self-medication ... to take the edge off," he told the jury. He claimed that by age 15 he had tried every drug he knew of, but that it was never for the sake of partying. Rather, it was to "dull the pain" of the traumas he had endured.

"I am not some maniac who needs to be high or loaded all the time," he said. "The quote, un-quote substance abuse that has been delivered by Ms. Heard is grossly embellished and sorry to say, a lot of it is plainly false."

On Tuesday, Depp admitted that he became addicted to a prescription opioid after sustaining a back injury during filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. It wasn't until about four or five years had gone by, and he was already with Heard, that he tried to kick the opiate.

Since then he has remained off of all opiates, Depp testified. However, Depp said he smokes marijuana and has done cocaine with Heard's sister on two to three occasions.

Depp talked about his childhood

Depp during his testimony also told stories about alleged childhood abuse that he, his siblings and his father all suffered at the hands of his mother. There were arguments between the adults, as well as physical and psychological violence, he said.

"There was physical abuse, which could be in the form of an ashtray being flung at you or you'd get beat with a high-heeled shoe, or a telephone or whatever was handy," Depp said. "So in our house we were never exposed to any kind of safety or security. The only thing that one could do really, was to try to stay out of the line of fire."

Depp said his father was a calm man who patiently endured her violent streak and outbursts. It was from him, Depp suggested, that he witnessed how a man could control his own temper even in extremely volatile situations.

Depp also spoke about the impact of the legal cases involving Heard – and the subsequent coverage of them in the media – has had on his children from French actress and singer, Vanessa Paradis.

"I thought it was diabolical that my children would have to go to school and have their friends or people in the school approach them with the People magazine cover with Ms. Heard with a dark bruise on her face," he said.

The Virginia case centers on Heard's 2018 essay about abuse

Depp is suing Heard for three counts of defamation, citing her op-ed that was published on The Washington Post website and in its print newspaper, as well as Heard's posting a link to the piece via her Twitter account.

Depp is seeking at least $50 million in compensatory damages and a punitive award of at least $350,000, along with attorneys' fees and court costs.

In December 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post voicing her support for the Violence Against Women Act. In it, she drew on her own experiences as a survivor of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

"Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age," Heard wrote. "But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn't see myself as a victim."

The essay didn't directly refer to Depp by name, but his 2019 court complaint states, "the op-ed plainly was about Ms. Heard's purported victimization after she publicly accused her former husband, Johnny Depp, of domestic abuse in 2016, when she appeared in court with an apparently battered face and obtained a temporary restraining order against Mr. Depp."

Heard and Depp married in February 2015, and Heard filed for divorce in May 2016. Less than a week later, she took out a restraining order against Depp in Los Angeles, saying he threw an iPhone at her head during an argument. Depp denied doing so, saying Heard was seeking leverage in their divorce. At the time, police said they found no evidence of a crime and that Heard did not insist on a formal report.

When the two settled their divorce in 2017, the agreement reportedly included a stipulation in which they agreed not to discuss their relationship in public.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.