Explosive new allegations have been made by Amber Heard about her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, during the opening arguments of his $50m defamation trial.
Ms Heard's attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, claimed that Mr Depp sexually assaulted Heard using a liquor bottle during a black-out drunk episode.
Mr Depp was visibly skeptical as Ms Bredehoft made the claims, and shook his head "no" after her comments.
This is the first time Ms Heard has made the claims in public.
Mr Depp is suing Ms Heard for defamation stemming from an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she accused him of being abusive.
The couple was only married for a year in 2015 after meeting on the set of The Rum Diary.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor's lawyers aim to prove that Ms Heard is a "compulsive liar" and "profoundly troubled person" who tried to use a "hoax" domestic abuse story to raise her profile in Hollywood and advance her career.
“The only medical report of an injury during their relationship was a severe one sustained by Mr Depp after an argument shortly after their marriage, while the couple was in Australia," Depp's attorney, Camille Vasquez, told the court. "She threw a vodka bottle at him that hit his hand and exploded, severing the end of one of his fingers.”
Ms Heard's attorneys maintain that Mr Depp cut off his own finger in a drunken fit.
Ms Vasquez countered the sexual assault allegations by claiming that Ms Heard made them up to further bolster her argument when she realised she would have to defend her claims in court.
“Ms Heard had never made that accusation against Mr Depp — it was never part of her allegations of abuse in 2016. So, what changed? When she realized the seriousness of what she alleged [about being the victim of domestic abuse], she panicked and alleged sexual assault,” she told the jury. “In Mr Depp’s 58 years, not a single woman has ever accused him of violence, and nobody in Hollywood or the world had any reason to believe he was an abuser – until Ms Heard publicly accused him.”
Mr Depp is arguing that MsHeard's allegations destroyed his career. Her attorneys claimed his career was already on the downturn, largely due to his own alleged abuse of alcohol and drugs.
A spokesperson for Depp reached out to The Independent to respond to the claims.
“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,”a spokesperson for Mr Depp said in a statement.
After a recess for lunch, Christi Dembrowski, Mr Depp’s older sister, and the president of his production company, took the stand.
She recounted her and her brother’s early life, recalling abuse she and Mr Depp suffered at the hands of their mother, who she described as “angry” and “high strung”. She said her mother would hit them and her father, and called them names. She claimed her mother called Mr Depp “one-eye” because he wore an eyepatch to correct a lazy eye when he was a child.
Later, she discussed her relationship with Ms Heard, recalling her first meetings with her during production of The Rum Diary. Ms Dembrowski described Heard as “standoffish” but said in other interactions she was “friendly.”
She said that she became aware of an unusual number of fights between Mr Depp and Ms Heard during their short marriage. Ms Dembrowski said that during Mr Depp’s previous marriage to Vanessa Paradis that the couple rarely fought throughout their 14-year relationship.
Ms Dembrowski also claimed Ms Heard frequently insulted Mr Depp, recalling one instance after the actor met with Dior about a partnership.
“[Heard’s] reaction to that was that she was in disbelief and sort of disgust, and she said ‘Dior ? Why would Dior want to do business with you? They are about class and style and you do not have style.’ It was an insulting kind of taking away that one moment, that insult was there,” Ms Dembrowski claimed. “I have seen the insults, multiple times actually. She called him an ‘old, fat man.’ I believe he heard her call him that.”
Later, after discussing the death of her and Mr Depp’s mother, Ms Dembrowski said she was “disgusted” to learn that Ms Heard filed for divorce only three days after the woman passed away.
During cross-examination, Ms Heard’s defence team questioned Ms Dembrowski on her personal reliance on her brother’s career, suggesting she might have a financial incentive to protect her brother’s reputation.
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