Johnny Depp and Amber Heard verdict divides celebrities amid claims #MeToo is 'dead'

Columnist Meghan McCain says the movement is over as musicians, actors and politicians also speak out

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The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial is dividing celebrities.

A US jury on Wednesday found both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp liable for defamation in rival lawsuits, but awarded Depp millions of dollars more in damages in a stunning victory for the Pirates of the Caribbean star.

Depp was given $10 million plus $5m in punitive damages following the six-week hearing against his ex-wife.

The jury found Heard defamed Depp three times in a Washington Post article in 2018 by identifying herself as a victim of sexual and physical violence; the article did not name her ex-husband.

However, the jury also ruled Depp's attorney had defamed Heard with one statement after calling her claims a "hoax" and awarded her $2m in compensatory damages.

Following Wednesday's result, Depp took to Instagram to post a lengthy statement, saying "the jury gave my life back. I am truly humbled".

Heard posted on Twitter less than an hour after the hearing ended, saying she was "disappointed with what this verdict means for other women".

"It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously."

The result has split opinion, however, with some saying justice has been served to the Pirates of Caribbean star, while others believe the result undermines Heard's accusations of abuse and thus the entire #MeToo movement, which saw women speak out against sexual abuse and violence.

About one hour after the verdict was announced, comedian Amy Schumer posted a quote from feminist Gloria Steinem on Instagram, alluding to the trial and hinting support for Heard but not specifically referencing it.

"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke," the quote reads. "She will need her sisterhood."

Meanwhile, former The View host Sharon Osbourne said on Piers Morgan's TalkTV show: “Wow, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I mean, I wanted Johnny to win but I didn’t expect him to.”

Fellow The View host Meghan McCain wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted. "#MeToo is dead. Helluva job @ACLU," she posted, seemingly sarcastically referencing the American Civil Liberties Union, whose general counsel testified that the organisation had helped Heard to produce The Washington Post op-ed that was the basis for the trial.

While it's unclear whether McCain meant this triumphantly or dejectedly, it's a view shared by experts. “This is basically the end of #MeToo,” Dr Jessica Taylor, a psychologist, forensic psychology PhD, and author of two books on misogyny and abuse, told Rolling Stone. “It’s the death of the whole movement.”

Many famous names have spoken out in support of Depp, who has since been seen at a pub in Newcastle with musician Sam Fender as the actor has been touring England with Jeff Beck.

Musician Ryan Adams, who was accused by women of physical and emotional abuse in 2019, reacted to Depp's Instagram post with a heart, praise hands and fire emojis.

Comedian Morgana Robinson also commented on the post: "We love you, Edward scissor hands."

Other stars such as model Naomi Campbell and Pretty Little Liars actress Ashley Benson simply commented with heart emojis.

Pakistani singer-songwriter Ali Zafar, who has also previously been accused of sexual misconduct, wrote on Twitter: "Even a true empath could only understand a small percentage of what Johnny Depp must’ve gone through. The truth remains that no verdict or amount of money can bring him back 6 prime years of his life. The art he could’ve produced. Smiles he could’ve brought."

The Walking Dead actress Laurie Holden wrote on Twitter: "Today justice was served. The verdict of the jury sent a message to the world that abuse has no gender and that facts actually do matter." She added the hashtag #TruthWins, which was trending on the social media platform.

Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean co-star Greg Ellis, tweeted: "Plant your flag for Johnny Depp", accompanied by a pirate flag emoji.

Ellis wrote in a separate post: "Todays victory sends a signal." He added: "The truth won out. 6 long years."

Others chose to remain neutral, some saying they're simply glad it's over.

"I need a timeline cleanse," wrote Bill & Ted star Alex Winter, alongside a photo of his cat.

Actor Ricki Lake wrote: "Someone won!!!!!!"

Depp sued the Aquaman star for $50 million over her 2018 article in The Washington Post titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath … That has to change.”

Depp’s lawyers said the article, which did not mention him by name, falsely claimed that he was physically and sexually abusive while the two were together.

Heard filed a $100m counter-claim against the Pirates of the Caribbean star after his lawyer called her allegations a hoax. Each accuses the other of destroying their career.

Johnny Depp fans rally on the final day of the trial — in pictures

Updated: June 02, 2022, 2:56 PM