After a judge rejected Amber Heard’s motion to dismiss Johnny Depp’s libel suit against her, a psychologist testified that Heard suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from violence she suffered at the hands of Depp, including multiple acts of sexual assault.
The sexual assaults included being forced to perform oral sex and having Depp penetrate her with a liquor bottle, the psychologist, Dawn Hughes, told jurors at Depp’s libel trial against Heard. He accuses her of falsely claiming in a newspaper op-ed piece that she was a victim of domestic violence.
Hughes’ testimony contradicts that of a psychologist hired by Depp’s lawyers, who said Heard was faking her symptoms of PTSD and suffered from borderline and histrionic personality disorders. Hughes disputed that Heard suffers from any personality disorder.
Hughes was the first witness to take the stand on Heard’s behalf after Depp’s lawyers rested their case Tuesday morning. She said she based her testimony on 29 hours of interviews with Heard, as well as interviews with Heard’s therapists and a review of court documents.
Hughes said there is corroboration of many of the instances of abuse, including apologies and admissions made by Depp to Heard and admissions he made to friends in text messages about his bad behavior when he drinks. In some cases, Heard told her therapists about the abuse contemporaneously, Hughes said.
Much of the violence, Hughes said, stemmed from Depp’s obsessive jealousy. He insisted she avoid nude scenes, if she worked at all, and accused her of affairs with actors Billy Bob Thornton and James Franco. If she did work on a film, Depp would call the director and others on the set and say he “had eyes” there who would report to him if she fraternized improperly, Hughes said.
And Heard, who identifies as bisexual according to treatment notes introduced at trial, also faced scrutiny in her interactions with women. Hughes said Depp on one occasion manually penetrated Heard in anger after witnessing Heard’s interactions with a woman.
Heard blinked back tears, and her lips and chin quivered at times as Hughes described the abuse.
Heard is expected to take the stand Wednesday.
The divorced movie stars’ trial began April 11 in Fairfax County, Virginia, outside Washington, DC, and is broadcasting live.
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard libel trial:Everything from court, including Depp on the stand
Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million, alleging she defamed him in an opinion column she published in The Washington Post in December 2018. In the column, she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse.
While Heard didn’t name Depp, his defense claims there were enough details pointing to him as the subject, and as a result, he lost future business earnings.
Johnny Depp libel trial continues after Amber Heard motions to dismiss case
Earlier Tuesday, a judge let Depp move forward with his libel suit against his ex-wife, Heard, after the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star rested his case.
Heard’s lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that Depp had failed to make his case as a matter of law and that no reasonable jury could find in his favor.
But the judge, Penney Azcarate, said the standard for dismissing a case at this point in the trial is exceedingly high, and that the case should be allowed to move forward if Depp has even provided a “scintilla” of evidence backing up his claims.
Johnny Depp’s attorney claims Amber Heard is ‘the abuser’
In addressing Heard’s motion to dismiss, Depp’s attorney Chew argued that the jury has a wealth of evidence to conclude that Heard falsely accused Depp of abuse. In fact, he said, the evidence shows that “Ms. Heard physically abused him. She’s the abuser.”
Heard’s lawyer, J. Benjamin Rottenborn, said the evidence is clear over the last three weeks of testimony that Heard’s allegations of abuse are truthful.
“We haven’t gotten to put on our case yet,” he said. “This is all evidence that you have come in while plaintiff controls the playing field.”
The judge on Tuesday did say she’s reserving judgment on whether the article’s headline in online editions should be part of the libel lawsuit because she said the evidence is unclear at this point whether Heard wrote the headline or is responsible for it. The online headline reads, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
More:Officer responding to Johnny Depp, Amber Heard fight says he saw no injuries on actress
Final witnesses for Johnny Depp testify
Among the final witnesses for Depp on Tuesday morning was Erin Falati, a private nurse for Heard. She testified on a recorded deposition that she received photos of Heard with red marks on her face the night of May 21, 2016. That’s the night of a final fight between Depp and Heard that precipitated Heard’s divorce filing a few days later and her May 27 appearance at a Los Angeles courthouse, with red marks on her face, seeking a restraining order.
Depp has said Heard faked the bruises, and presented testimony from police officers who didn’t see marks on Heard’s face when authorities were called the night of the fight. But the photos texted to Falati, which were seen by the jury, could contradict the officers’ perception.
Amber Heard’s lawyer says article did not damage Johnny Depp’s reputation
In opening statements on April 12, Rottenborn argued that Heard was exercising her First Amendment rights as an advocate when she wrote the article, which focused largely on the broad topic of domestic violence.
The attorney said the 2018 article did nothing to damage Depp’s reputation. He noted that the abuse accusations had been public for two years already, and he said Depp’s spiraling career was the result of his drinking and drug-using him, which made him an unreliable commodity to Hollywood studios.
“This man’s poor choices have brought him to this point,” he said. “Stop blaming other people for your own self-created problems.”
‘I am an insane person’:Lawyers question Johnny Depp’s texts about drugs, threats to Amber Heard
Johnny Depp testifies he never hit Amber Heard
In prior testimony from Depp and his team, Depp discussed the impact he felt from Heard’s op-ed. “When the allegations were rapidly circling the globe, telling people that I was a drunken, cocaine-fueled, menace who beat women, suddenly in my 50s, it’s over. You know, you’re done,” Depp said. “That is to say, I lost, because that is not a thing that anyone is going to just put on your back for a short period of time. I will live with that for the rest of my life.”
Depp also testified that he never physically abused Heard amid the couple’s constant quarrels, but his ex-wife resorted to violence. “Ms. Heard in her frustration and rage would strike out,” he said.
Depp wrapped up his testimony on April 25 with details about his missing fingertip, which he alleged was a result of Heard throwing a vodka bottle at his hand during an argument.
The jury has also heard from a forensic psychologist hired by Depp’s team to speak on Heard’s mental state and from police officers who responded to the scene of the couple’s penthouse after a 2016 fight in which Heard claims Depp hit her, but Depp denies.
Amber Heard’s op-ed:Johnny Depp’s agent testifies that her op-ed was ‘catastrophic’ to actor’s career
Amber Heard article in question finally takes center stage
Much of the trial so far has been a look into the fraught relationship between Depp and Heard, and not the actual article at the center of Depp’s lawsuit. But on April 28, the article took center stage.
Terence Dougherty, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told jurors that there was a push and pull between Heard and her lawyers, and the ACLU, which drafted the 2018 Washington Post op-ed piece under Heard’s name, reflecting her role as an ACLU ambassador on gender violence issues.
The ACLU was concerned about potential violations of a non-disclosure agreement stemming from Depp and Heard’s 2016 divorce, and urged Heard’s lawyers to review the original piece.
During those discussions, Heard sent back an edited version approved by her lawyers that “specifically neutered much of the copy regarding her marriage,” according to an email from Jessica Weitz, an ACLU employee who coordinated with Heard.
The final article never mentioned Depp by name. Instead, Heard was identified as “a public figure representing domestic abuse,” and in another passage, she wrote, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Amber Heard has yet to take the stand.But on social media, Johnny Depp has already won.
Contributing: Naledi Ushe and Maria Puente, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press