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Depp friend casts doubt on Heard abuse claims  

In emotional testimony, Johnny Depp's longtime friend accused Amber Heard of inventing her allegations of abuse.

FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) — In an outburst from the witness stand Wednesday, a close friend of Johnny Depp accused the actor’s ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, of having “phony pictures” taken showing bruises on her face before presenting herself as a domestic abuse survivor.

“So many people have been affected by this malicious lie that she started and she created. It’s gone out the door and around the world,” said Isaac Baruch, an artist who has known the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor for more than 40 years. His voice cracking with emotion, he added, “Johnny, his family has been wrecked by all this stuff. It’s not fair. It’s not right what she did.”

Baruch's testimony comes in a Virginia trial focused on whether Heard defamed Depp when the "Aquaman" actress described herself as a domestic abuse survivor in a 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post. The article didn’t mention Depp by name but referred to a period two years earlier when he and Heard were married.

As the union was ending, Heard went to court in California on May 27, 2016, to obtain a restraining order against Depp. Baruch testified that he encountered Heard several times during the week when she was photographed with her face bruised.

“There’s no redness," he said. "There’s no swelling. There’s no bruises. There’s no cuts. It’s Amber looking like Amber.”

Actress Amber Heard looks on inside a Fairfax County Circuit Court courtroom in Fairfax, Va., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski, Pool via AP)

During testimony and cross-examination, Baruch spoke admiringly of Depp, who also became his art patron.  

“Would you say you are kind of beholden to Mr. Depp?” asked Heard’s lead attorney, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft. She noted that Baruch testified Depp had given him $100,000 over time to help him with his work as an artist. He has also lived rent-free at various properties owned by Depp.

"I’m not beholden at all.” Baruch said.

When Bredehoft asked him if he was angry with Heard, Baruch said, “About the phony pictures that were taken and put in tabloids? And about the fake narrative? And the way she’s got a fraudulent DV [domestic violence] claim to extort and blackmail a man? Yeah. That kind of got me frustrated, confused, angry, upset. Yes.”

Bredehoft also asked if Baruch knew whether Heard was wearing makeup when he saw her. He said he did not.

Depp’s team contends that witnesses saw Heard the week in which she took out a restraining order and she didn’t have bruises when they saw her. They contend that Heard's story generated publicity for her and was calamitous for Depp's career. Heard's attorneys say the actress was abused and Depp's career problems resulted from substance abuse issues.

Actor Johnny Depp is seen inside a Fairfax County Circuit Court courtroom in Fairfax, Va., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski, Pool via AP)

Earlier Wednesday, Heard’s team questioned Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski, about an email she received from a doctor who was helping the actor deal with addiction.

“He informed you that your brother didn’t take accountability for his behavior. Correct?” asked Benjamin Rottenborn of Woods Rogers, one of Heard's attorneys.

“Yes,” Dembrowski replied. “He wrote that he has no accountability for his behavior in this time.”

Depp's lawsuit was filed in Fairfax County, Virginia, where the Post is printed. He is demanding $50 million in damages. Heard filed a counterclaim asking for $100 million.

Categories / Entertainment, Media, Trials

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