Examining a Lie: Presenting the Case for Johnny Depp’s Innocence

I don’t believe it is a controversial statement to say that we, as a society, treat male victims of domestic violence differently than women. Nothing is more of a testament to this fact than the media’s treatment of Johnny Depp. Going forward, keep in mind that there were too many details of this case to examine every single allegation or even most of the details of this case. It is for this reason that I chose some of the most significant pieces of evidence to the case for discussion. 

The End of a Rocky Marriage

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were married for only 15 months before Heard filed for divorce, as well as a restraining order, claiming that Johnny Depp was physically abusive. She then authored an op-ed for the Washington Post, speaking as a victim of domestic violence and claiming that she had come under attack for it. Following this op-ed, UK tabloid newspaper The Sun ran a story alleging that Depp is a wife beater. To no one’s surprise, these allegations tarnished Depp’s reputation and ultimately, his career. He was dropped from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and lost out to countless movie roles. No one wanted the PR nightmare of hiring someone being lambasted as a domestic abuser. Though JK Rowling initially showed her support for her longtime friend Johnny Depp and insisted that she was happy for him to be cast as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, Warner Bros eventually asked him to resign from the role in 2020. This was after he lost his libel case against The Sun newspaper.

 

Ex Girlfriends and Heard’s Affiliates Come to Depp’s Defense

All of this began with accusations from Amber Heard against Johnny Depp, alleging that he was physically and emotionally abusive and that she feared for her life. However, seemingly every other person who has ever known Depp has a very different perception of him. Both of his exes Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder came to his defense, insisting he was never abusive with them. His ex partner Vanessa Paradis, who he was with for 14 years and has 2 children with, has stated “in all the years I have known Johnny, he has never been physically abusive with me and this looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years." Ryder is on record saying the following about Depp, “I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him. The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved. I cannot wrap my head around these accusations… He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen. I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man- an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him… I do not want to call anyone a liar but from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting knowing him as I do” (Graves, 2020). Paradis even went on to assert that Heard’s claims were false facts, saying "I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts," her statement said (“Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis”, 2020).

 

Who Abused Who?

Depp fought back against Heard’s and The Sun’s characterization of him, accusing them of defamation. He sued Amber Heard for $50 million over her opinion piece for The Washington Post, which implied that she was physically abused by Depp. He also sued The Sun for libel, because they claimed he abused his ex wife, without evidence. Depp maintains he was not the perpetrator of violence, but rather the victim of Heard’s physical attacks and presented  Ultimately, Depp lost his case with The Sun, but he vows to take even more evidence that he was the victim of abuse to the US courts. 

Lies, Lies, and more Lies

One of the incidents in which Heard alleges Depp got violent with her occurred on December 16 2015. She claimed to have two black eyes following this incident and appeared on the Late Show with James Corden the night after. The problem, however, is that stylist Samantha McMillan, who worked with the couple and was with her when she claimed to have black eyes, has disputed Heard’s claim. McMillan was with Heard when she was preparing to go on Corden’s show and has stated that she could “see clearly” that Heard had no marks, cuts or bruises. She’s certainly not the last person to accuse Heard of lying. Tara Roberts, the estate manager at Depp’s residence in the Bahamas insisted Depp was a very kind man who would never be violent or aggressive. Heard, however, was a different story. Roberts asserts she witnessed Heard screaming and berating Depp, while he tried to get away from her. She claims she witnessed Heard getting physically violent with Depp, including throwing things at him, lunging violently, pulling his hair, and committing other aggressive physical acts against him. While Heard was allegedly screaming demeaning things at Depp, such as calling him “fat”, “washed up”, that his career is over, and that he will “die a lonely man”, Roberts says she saw a red, swelling gash on his nose. Depp had told Roberts that Heard threw a can of lacquer thinner at his face, injuring his nose (Quinn, 2020).

 

Another incident in which faeces was found on the couple’s bed caused quite a stir. Hilda Vargas, the housekeeper, was horrified to find a pile of faeces lying on the couple’s bed. She insisted that it was certainly human and could not have come from the couple’s two small dogs (Quinn, 2020). While Heard claimed it came from one of their Yorkshire terrier dogs, Estate manager Kevin Murphy testified under oath that Amber Heard had admitted to him that the faeces on the bed was just a harmless prank (Duell & Chaudhary, 2020). 

 

Amber Heard’s former personal assistant claims that Heard stole her rape survival story and twsted it to benefit herself. Kate James submitted a statement to the High Court that declares she was violently raped at knife point when she was 26 and that Heard stole her story and passed it off as her own. Kate claims that Heard asked to hear her story of sexual abuse. It was not until Kate received court documents relating to the libel hearing that she realized Heard had stolen her story and the details that were revealed to Heard during that private conversation. One of the alleged physical altercations on May 21 2016 resulted in which the police were called. Heard claimed that Depp threw an iphone at her face, resulting in bruising. She won a restraining order after submitting photos of a bruised face. However, the police who were called that night arrived on scene and found no evidence of a crime and stated under oath that there were no physical bruises on Heard, she also chose not to report a crime. Depp accused Heard of falsifying injuries (Chaudhary & Duell, 2020).

 

Depp as the Victim? Leaked Recordings Show Heard Admitting to Violence

In perhaps the biggest twist of events this case has seen, audio recordings of an argument between Heard and Depp show Heard admitting to physically attacking Depp, as she mocks him for always running away from fights. Some of the audio you can hear from Amber includes, “'I'm sorry that I didn't, uh, uh, hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you're not punched.” She then goes on to say 'I don't know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you're fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you' (Ashford, 2020). Apparently punching is a red flag, but hitting is a perfectly acceptable mode of expression. Heard is also heard calling Depp a “baby.” Depp is heard pleading with Heard to stop the violence, 'I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you because I just couldn't take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other, because had we continued it, it would have gotten f**king bad. And baby, I told you this once. I'm scared to death we are a f**king crime scene right now.' Most concerningly, Heard’s response was that she could not promise to not get physical again. 'I can't promise you I won't get physical again. God I f**king sometimes get so mad I lose it' (Ashford, 2020). This was one of the first bombshells to turn the court of public opinion against Heard and caused people to flock to the defense of Depp, who maintains he was the real victim of abuse. 

 

Depp has also stated in court that Heard has been professionally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as well as narcissism. “She is a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality; she is sociopathic; she is a narcissist; and she is completely emotionally dishonest” claimed Depp, stating that this is why he was an easy target for her (UK News, 2020). Amber Heard does have a record of domestic violence with her ex girlfriend, only she was the perpetrator. After getting into an argument with her girlfriend in an airport, witnesses saw Heard grab her arm, hit her, and rip off her necklace, for which she was arrested. Heard’s girlfriend later attempted to diminish the altercation, insisting it was made out to be a bigger deal than it was and the couple accused the police of being misogynistic and homophobic. However, it turned out that the arresting officer was an openly gay woman. In 2011, the police also received a request to delete the arrest information and they did, as is allowed under Washington state law (Puente, 2016).

 

Depp almost died from MRSA, as a result of a finger injury that he claims Heard gave him when she threw a vodka bottle at him, severing his finger. Depp alleges that, in a violent rage, Heard threw bottles at him, which hit a marble countertop and subsequently shattered into pieces and severed off the tip of his finger. You can find the photos online, but be warned that they are pretty gruesome and disturbing. Allegedly, what threw Heard into this violent rage was Depp’s request that she sign a postnuptial agreement a month after getting married. Unfortunately, this finger injury resulted in Depp contracting MRSA 3 times and ultimately he had to have reconstructive surgery (Bucktin, 2019). Depp submitted this evidence in court, along with photos of a burn mark on his face, which he claims is from Heard putting out a cigarette butt on his face. Depp’s bodyguard, Malcolm Connolly, corroborated Depp’s story and told the High Court that Depp came up to him after the incident, saying “Look at my finger. She's cut my f***ing finger off. She's smashed my hand with a vodka bottle." Additionally, Connolly testified that Heard’s claims of the incident bear no resemblance to his recollection and he feared that she would pelt them with objects. Connolly also corroborated the cigarette burn mark on Depp’s face, which he says Depp told him had been put out on his cheek by Heard. Connolly claims that, while trying to remove Depp from the situation, Heard became hysterical and was screaming at Johnny “are you just going to leae it like this, you f***ing coward” She allegedly continued to scream incompatible things at Depp, alternating between saying she loves him, telling him to run away, and then telling him to come back. The bodyguard feared that she would begin throwing things, because he claimed he had witnessed her throwing objects before (Kirk, 2020).

 

Ultimately, since we were not there for any of these alleged altercations, no one can know what truly went down except for those who were present. However, based on the available evidence, at the very least, Heard is not the innocent victim of a one-sided abusive relationship that she claims to be. Furthermore, she has not suffered the same damage to her reputation that Depp has, despite there being more substantial evidence against her. Heard is still a L’oreal Spokesperson, keeping her role as Mera in the huge blockbuster Aquaman 2, and is ironically an ACLU Ambassador for Women’s Rights. Comparatively, Depp can hardly show his face in Hollywood anymore, having lost out on huge franchises based on unfounded allegations. This brings us to the overarching issue we currently face in our culture: insisting that we should blindly believe people, without evidence, at the expense of those who are accused. Let me clarify, I stand with victims of emotional, physical, and mental abuse and I wish every survivor who has come forward to tell their story could seek justice, but we have a legal system for a reason. This is also cognizant of how we’ve become a cancel culture for all the wrong reasons. We cancel people for minor cultural missteps or offensive jokes, but not actual crimes. Perhaps this could be a lesson that while The Me Too movement has empowered women to come forward about those who have abused their positions of power, it can not leave innocent people in the wake of it’s warpath. We need to make the rights of victims of abuse, as well as victims of false accusations a priority, not just one over the other. Keep in mind, you have every right to believe a friend who confides in you about some horrible incident that happens to them, but it is quite another thing to mandate that entire industries and the court of law should do the same.

 

ABC News Australia. (2020, July 17). Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis say allegations against Johnny Depp by Amber Heard do not reflect man they knew. ABC News Australia. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-17/winona-ryder-vanessa-paradis-defe...

Ashford, B. (2020, February 1). Exclusive: 'I can't promise I won't get physical again, I get so mad I lose it.' Listen as Amber Heard admits to 'hitting' ex-husband Johnny Depp and pelting him with pots, pans and vases in explosive audio confession. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7947733/Amber-Heard-admits-hitt...

Bucktin, C. (2019, May 21). Johnny Depp claims he almost died after Amber Heard 'severed his finger in attack'. Daily Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/johnny-depp-claims-almost-di...

Duell, M., & Chaudhary V. (2020, July 15). Johnny Depp wanted to DNA test sheet feces to determine their origin and complained 'my wife left a whooper poo on my bed' before telling Amber Heard he wanted a divorce on conference call with assistant. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8525505/Johnny-Depps-assistant-...

Chaudhary, V., & Duell, M. (2020, July 16). Amber Heard 'stole' my rape survival story and 'twisted it into her own story to benefit herself', says her fired personal assistant who says she was raped at knife point. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8526299/Amber-Heard-stole-rape-...

Graves, W. (2020, March 17). Winona Ryder defends Johnny Depp, calls Amber Heard’s allegations “impossible to believe”. Consequence of Sound. https://consequenceofsound.net/2020/03/winona-ryder-defends-johnny-depp-...

Kirk, T. (2020, July 14). Johnny Depp's boydguard tells how actor shouted 'she's cut my f****** finger off' after Amber Heard 'smashed his hand with vodka bottle'. Evening Standard. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/johnny-depp-amber-heard-llbel-trial-s...

Puente, M. (2016, June 7). Amber Heard arrested in 2009 on charge of hitting girlfriend. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2016/06/07/amber-heard-arrest...

Quinn, B. (2020, July 15). Amber Heard's claim she had two black eyes was false, high court told. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jul/14/amber-heard-shouted-insults...

UK News. (2020, July 8). Johnny Depp: I was an easy target for ‘calculating narcissist’ Amber Heard. Express & Star. https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/07/07/johnny-depp-i-was...