Johnny Depp and Amber Heard engaged in ‘mutual abuse’, therapist tells libel trial – as former PA who ‘ran her life’ contradicts violence claims
A couples therapist who worked with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has told the actor’s libel trial against his ex-wife that the pair engaged in “mutual abuse” throughout their relationship.
Laurel Anderson’s testimony followed that of Heard‘s former personal assistant Kate James, who said the actress was verbally abusive to her during the time she worked for her, describing her as a “dramatic” person who was insecure about her relationship with Depp.
The two women answered questions during the third day of testimony in the $50m trial, which has been brought by Depp against Heard over a column she wrote in The Washington Post in 2018. Depp’s private doctor, David Kipper, also began his testimony at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.
During the session on Thursday, the court also heard more details of Depp’s drink and drugs problems and of a text he sent referring to locking his “monster” away.
Here are some of the key points from the third day of testimony:
• The therapist told the court she believed Heard initiated violence more than Depp
• Heard sent “barrages” of abusive messages and “screamed” at her former assistant on the phone, it was claimed
• Ms James says in her three years working with Depp she never saw any bruises or marks on the star
• Medical notes detailed how Depp “expressed fears of never feeling normal without his drugs”
• Catch up on what has been said so far in our live reporting of the trial as it happens
Ms Anderson, a clinical psychotherapist who saw Depp and Heard on multiple occasions, both together and separately, said Depp told her that Heard “gave as good as she got” during their fights.
What came out at Heard and Depp’s couples therapy?
Giving her testimony virtually, Ms Anderson said Depp struggled to keep up with Heard’s “jackhammer style of talking” during their sessions and that the actress would often talk over him and interrupt him.
“She was very amped up,” she told jurors. “This is how [Depp] didn’t have a voice, he couldn’t keep up with her rapid-fire style of conversation.”
Asked about Depp’s relationships with previous partners, Ms Anderson said he had been “well controlled for decades” but was “triggered” with Heard – and “they engaged in what I saw as mutual abuse”.
Ms Anderson told the court that Heard admitted being violent towards Depp, saying it was a “point of pride” to initiate a fight if she felt “disrespected”.
“She felt she had to hit him back if he hit her, so she always did,” she said. “She loved him, he loved her… she wasn’t stupid, she knew what they were doing wasn’t healthy.” Heard also told her that Depp had been violent, the court heard.
Heard’s former PA tells of ‘blind rage’
Earlier in the day, the court heard another video testimony from Ms James, who was not complimentary about the actress, saying she basically ran her life and was paid “poorly” for doing so.
She described Heard as “dramatic” and “insecure” and said she was verbally abusive towards her during their time working together, detailing one incident of “blind rage”.
Ms James, who worked for Heard from 2012 to 2015, said the verbal attacks often made “no sense” and that Heard needed “someone to lash out at”.
She described Depp as a “gentleman” and told the court that in the time she worked for the actress, she never saw her with any bruising, cuts or marks that gave her any inkling of concern.
Later in the day, the court saw the start of the testimony of Dr Kipper, a private doctor who was enlisted to help Depp with a detox on his private island in the Bahamas in the summer of 2014.
The actor wanted to “detoxify” from alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines and stimulants, the doctor told the court.
Notes made on Depp’s treatment detailed how the star had “expressed fears of never feeling normal without his drugs”, the court was told.
Dr Kipper’s testimony will continue on Monday, when the court is next sitting.
Depp v Heard – the background
Depp is suing Heard for $50m (£38.2m), while Heard has issued a counterclaim for $100m (£76.4m). The former couple started dating after meeting on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary, and married in Los Angeles in February 2015.
Heard obtained a restraining order against Depp in May 2016 after accusing him of abuse, which he denied, and the pair settled their divorce out of court in 2017.
In the opening statements on Tuesday, the actor’s lawyers said his ex was preparing for “the performance of a lifetime” during the trial, while her legal team said the case would expose the “real” person behind the “fame” and “pirate costumes”.
Heard’s lawyers also told the jury they would hear evidence of physical and sexual abuse during the hearing. Depp strenuously denies the allegations.
Both he and Heard are set to give testimony during the trial, which is scheduled to take place over six weeks. Actors Paul Bettany and James Franco, as well as tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, are also on the witness list.
The trial against The Sun – what happened?
Why are they in court again?
The court has already heard from Depp’s sister and a friend who lived in a penthouse apartment next to the actor and Heard when they were together.
Many of the witnesses involved in the case were previously called to give evidence to Depp’s 2020 trial in London, in which he sued the publisher of The Sun newspaper over an article that referred to him as a “wife-beater”.
The judge in that case found the claims in the article to be “substantially true” and Depp was later refused permission to appeal the case at the Court Of Appeal.
Ms Heard’s Washington Post article did not mention Depp by name, but was titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath.”
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