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Johnny Depp to return to stand in defamation case against ex-wife

Actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Actor Johnny Depp is expected to return to the witness stand on Wednesday in a $50 million defamation case he said he brought to expose the truth about his relationship with ex-wife and actress Amber Heard, who has accused him of abuse.

In three hours of testimony in a Virginia courtroom on Tuesday, Depp said he and Heard argued, but he never struck her. He wanted to correct the record about his behavior for himself and his children.

Speaking softly and slowly, Depp said it was a “complete shock” about six years ago when Heard “made some quite heinous and disturbing” allegations that he became violent during their relationship.

“Never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck any woman in my life,” said Depp, who wore a dark suit with his hair in a ponytail.

Depp’s two children from a previous relationship were in high school at the time.

“Truth is the only thing I’m interested in,” he added. “I’m obsessed with the truth.”

Depp, 58, alleges Heard, 35, defamed him when she penned a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse. He filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard in 2018.

The article never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp lawyer Benjamin Chew told jurors a week ago that it was clear Heard was referencing the Hollywood leading man.

Attorneys for Heard have argued she told the truth and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the US Constitution’s First Amendment. In opening arguments, Heard’s attorneys said Depp physically and sexually assaulted her while abusing drugs and alcohol.

A state court judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, is overseeing the trial, which is in its second week and is expected to last for six weeks.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater.” A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard and put her in fear for her life.

In the US case, Depp and Heard both submitted long lists of potential witnesses they may call, including Heard’s ex-boyfriend and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and actor James Franco.

Depp’s lawyers have said they filed the case in Fairfax County, outside the District of Columbia, because the Washington Post is printed at a facility there. The Washington Post is not a defendant in the case.

The United States is a difficult forum for libel plaintiffs, especially public figures like Depp, who must prove by clear and convincing evidence that Heard knowingly made false claims.

Heard, known for roles in “Aquaman” and “Justice League,” has brought her own libel claim against Depp, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar.

Heard’s counterclaim, seeking $100 million in damages, will be decided as part of the trial.

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