Johnny Depp Accused of 'Sexual Violence' at Amber Heard Defamation Trial

Depp's libel trial against Heard began on Tuesday at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

Johnny Depp has been accused of "sexual violence" by ex-wife Amber Heard's attorneys during the opening statements of Depp's libel lawsuit against the Aquaman actress.

In the opening statements, which were broadcast on CourtTV, Heard's lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, claimed that Heard suffered abuse that "took many forms," including physical, emotional and psychological. A spokesperson for Depp released a statement to ET on Tuesday, calling the allegations "fictitious," and "erroneous."

The lawsuit itself was filed by Depp, 58, over an op-ed Heard, 35, wrote for the Washington Post in 2018. The article itself did not mention Depp by name, however, their contentious 2016 divorce had been in the news over the previous two years.

The headline for the online version of Heard's op-ed read "Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change." Rottenborn claimed that Heard did not write the headline herself, nor was she given final approval for it. However, the attorney alleged of the headline, "Tragically, it's true." 

"Amber did suffer sexual violence at the hands of Depp," Rottenborn claimed. "You will hear in the most graphic and horrifying terms about the violence that she suffered. You'll hear that straight from her. She will get on the stand and she will tell you that it happened."

Meanwhile, Depp's rep's statement said, "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," the statement added.

In Heard's lawyer's remarks, Rottenborn claimed that, in 2015, Depp got blackout drunk while in Australia, and allegedly "abused and sexually assaulted Amber, all because she had the courage to confront him about his drinking."

In her opening statement, Depp's attorney, Camille Vasquez, reiterated the allegation that Heard fabricated her claims to elevate her own career and notoriety amid the height of the #MeToo Movement.

Depp first filed his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard in 2019. In the suit, Depp claims that Heard's allegations of abuse against him were an "elaborate hoax." Depp alleges the op-ed caused damage to his career. He says he was dropped from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise four days after the op-ed was published. 

Though Heard never mentioned Depp by name in the article, the suit claims that the piece "depends on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her." Depp has denied that he ever abused Heard.

Depp and Heard finalized their divorce in January 2017, following her May 2016 filing. They tied the knot just 15 months earlier, in February 2015. In May 2016, Heard was granted a temporary restraining order against Depp after an incident in which Heard claims Depp physically attacked her.

As part of their divorce, Depp was ordered to pay Heard $7 million, which she chose to instead have donated to several charities, including the ACLU, with a "focus to stop violence against women."

The libel lawsuit is expected to play out over the next six weeks at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.