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Back on witness stand, Depp denies ‘cruel’ abuse claims

The defiant actor pushed back strongly on his ex-wife’s accusations of abuse.

FAIRFAX, Va.  (CN) — Actor Johnny Depp returned to the witness stand for a rebuttal Wednesday to again vehemently deny that he has ever sexually assaulted his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard.

"It’s insane to hear heinous accusations of violence, sexual violence, that she has attributed to me, that she’s accused me of," Depp said. "I don’t think anyone enjoys having to split themselves open and tell the truth, but there are times when one just simply has to because it’s gotten out of control."

Depp described the allegations made by Heard as, "horrible, ridiculous, humiliating, ludicrous, painful, savage, unimaginably brutal, cruel and all false," he said. "I have never in my life committed sexual battery."

The actor said he had been living with these accusations for six years – referring to 2016, when Heard walked into a California courthouse and took out a restraining order against him.

"This is not easy for any of us. I know that. But no matter what happens, I did get here, and I did tell the truth," he said. "And I have spoken up for what I’ve been carrying on my back reluctantly for six years.”

Depp contends he was defamed by an op-ed published in The Washington Post in December 2018. In the article, Heard recounted that she had become a public figure representing domestic abuse two years earlier – which would have been 2016, when she was married to Depp.

The first draft of the article was written by an ACLU staffer who worked with Heard. It never mentioned Depp by name. Even so, Depp contends that Heard was referring to him, and that as a result he lost his part in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. He filed suit against Heard, demanding $50 million in damages. Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim against him.

Actor Amber Heard speaks with a legal team member at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool photo via AP)

That counterclaim focuses, in part, on remarks about Heard made by one of Depp's attorneys, Adam Waldman. But Depp said that he didn't know about the quotes until he read Heard's counterclaim.

During cross-examination, one of Heard’s lawyers, Benjamin Rottenborn, asked Depp if he tried to get Heard fired from "Aquaman."

Depp said he did not. But Rottenborn showed the jury texts. One, sent by Depp to his sister, reads: “I want her replaced on that WB [Warner Brothers] film.”

In another text sent from Depp to an agent, the actor writes that he has “no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion or what I once thought was love for this gold-digging, low-level, dime-a-dozen, mushy, pointless, dangling overused flappy fish market…”

Beyond Depp's return to the witness stand, supermodel Kate Moss testified on the actor's behalf.

Moss, one of Depp’s former romantic partners, testified briefly Wednesday by video link from her home in England. She was called to rebut a rumor that she had once been pushed by Depp -- a story that surfaced during Heard's testimony earlier this month.

Heard recalled an incident in which Depp swung at Whitney Henriquez, her sister. “I just, in my head, instantly think of Kate Moss and the stairs and I swung at him,” Heard testified.

Moss, who was involved in a relationship with Depp from 1994 until 1998, said that she slipped on stairs in the rain while on a vacation in Jamaica. She screamed and Depp helped her.

Depp, she said, “never pushed me, kicked me or threw me down any stairs.”

Attorneys for Depp spent the day focused on charges that Heard's allegations of abuse are fake. One witness, Bryan Neumeister, a metadata expert, testified that he could not authenticate photos of Heard with bruises on her face. The photos, he said, had gone through an editing program. "In a photo editing app you can do an awful lot of things," he said.

Separately, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate heard a motion from Charles Tobin, an attorney for EHM Productions, owner of the TMZ website. The company sought to preclude the testimony of former employee, Morgan Tremaine, who was involved in publishing a video in which Depp can be seen kicking cabinets.

"It is TMZ's journalist privilege that we're talking about," Tobin argued.

One of Depp's attorneys, Benjamin Chew, quipped that TMZ "isn't exactly Edward R. Murrow." He also said that Tremaine wasn't being compelled to testify. Tobin shot back that the First Amendment applies to everyone, whether it is The New York Times or TMZ.

But Tobin also allowed that this was an unusual situation. Laughing, Azcarate remarked, "Tell me about it."

As Tremaine was apparently willing to testify, Azcarate denied EHM's bid to intervene.

When his time arrived to take the stand, Tremaine spoke without hesitation. Now a producer of e-sports events and video game designer, Tremaine described his past work for TMZ -- a period that coincided with the divorce of Depp and Heard. Tremaine explained that he had received the video of Depp slamming kitchen cabinets through an email tip line set up by the website. It took 15 minutes from the time the website received the video until it was posted, he testified.

He also dispatched the firm’s paparazzi to take photos of Heard on May 27, 2016, as she exited a Los Angeles courthouse with a temporary restraining order. "Their [the paparazzi's] objective was the capture her leaving the courthouse and then she was going to sort of stop and turn towards the camera to display the bruise on the right side of her face," he explained.

They got the shot.

One of Heard's attorneys, Elaine Bredehoft, asked Tremaine if he volunteered to come forth for his 15 minutes of fame.

Tremaine pointed out that by testifying, he had made himself a target for TMZ. As far as wanting 15 minutes of fame, he added, "I could say the same thing, by taking Amber Heard as a client, about you."

Categories / Civil Rights, Entertainment, Media, Trials

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