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Depp witness suggests Heard showed symptoms of personality disorders

Actress Amber Heard talks to her attorney during the trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 26. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AP)
5 min

Johnny Depp may be gone from the stand, but his defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard carries on — Depp’s lawyers called three more witnesses to the stand Tuesday as the trial in Fairfax County entered its ninth day.

Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million for defamation after she wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018 that said she had become a public figure representing domestic abuse. Though Heard did not name Depp in the article, the actor said it was obvious she was referring to him, because two years prior she had filed for divorce and a restraining order, alleging he had abused her.

Depp denied all claims of abuse and accused Heard of being the one who assaulted him on multiple occasions, and he said the op-ed further ruined his reputation and career. Heard, whose team has argued that Depp’s drug and alcohol use is what damaged his career, countersued Depp for $100 million after his lawyer called her allegations a hoax.

Here are some notable moments from Tuesday’s testimony:

Shannon Curry, clinical and forensic psychologist

Testimony: Curry said she was contacted by Depp’s legal team to provide a psychological evaluation of Heard in 2021. She met with Heard for approximately 12 hours; the actress took psychological tests and Curry reviewed medical records, exhibits and testimony from the case. She said her evaluation of Heard suggested two diagnoses: borderline personality disorder and histrionic disorder. Curry described people with borderline personality disorder as having a fear of abandonment, and will read into things they perceive as being an offense — they’ll exaggerate it in their minds and “explode and react.” She said histrionic personality disorder is “two sides of the same coin,” and the underlying drive is that the person must be the center of attention. When they feel they’re not, she said, they might make up stories or take on a victim role. Curry said Heard had said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from alleged abuse from Depp, but Curry found in her evaluation that Heard did not have PTSD.

Cross-examination: Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft wondered if it was strange that Curry had dinner and drinks at Depp’s house with the actor’s legal team before she was hired. Curry disagreed, saying the attorneys were trying to make an informed decision before retaining her services. Bredehoft asked if Curry understood that if her evaluation had found favorably to Heard but negatively toward Depp, she wouldn’t be testifying in this case. She asked whether Curry had read testimonies from other doctors who believed Heard was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Depp. Curry said she had reviewed those testimonies, but psychologists are not investigators, so she did not know whether violence existed. Bredehoft concluded by asking whether intimate personal violence could result in post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma-based disorders.

Tara Roberts, estate manager of Depp’s private island in the Bahamas

Testimony: Roberts, who said she witnessed an argument between Depp and Heard in December 2015, added that she overheard Heard telling Depp he was “a washed-up actor who was going to die a fat, lonely old man.” (“You hit me with a can,” Depp replied, according to Roberts. On Monday, Depp said in a recording that Heard threw a can of mineral spirits at his nose.) Roberts said she “thought it was best I remove [Depp] from the situation,” and walked him to a cafe. She said she noticed that Depp had a mark on the bridge of his nose, so she brought him ice. Roberts said when she walked into the house, she noticed a can of mineral spirits had leaked out on the deck.

Cross-examination: Roberts confirmed that she is financially tied to Depp with her salary and that she did not spend all day with the couple; she would not know if Depp had been taking drugs or was drinking or if any physical abuse was taking place behind closed doors. Roberts agreed she was not present when Depp sustained the mark on his nose. Roberts was asked about an incident in July 2013, when Depp, Heard and his children, Lily-Rose and Jack, took a final trip on a yacht before Depp sold it to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Roberts confirmed that Lily-Rose and Jack asked to leave and that she arranged a helicopter to take them away. Later, Jack called her again because Depp was passed out in the sand on the beach.

Melissa Saenz, police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department

Testimony: Saenz testified that she was called to a domestic dispute on May 21, 2016 — several days before Heard filed for divorce and a restraining order — at Depp and Heard’s penthouse in Los Angeles. When she arrived, Heard was crying and uncooperative, refused to answer when Saenz asked her questions and did not say she had been assaulted by anybody. Her friends at the home would not answer questions. Saenz said that she conducted a sweep of the home and that it did not look like an act of domestic violence had happened, and she determined that no crime had been committed; she gave Heard a business card and said to get in touch if she wanted to talk further.

Cross-examination: Saenz was shown photos of Heard from that night where there was redness around her cheekbone and eyelid and eyebrow, and said she thought it looked consistent with crying, not an injury. Bredehoft reminded Saenz that if she saw evidence of injury or property damage, she would have been duty-bound to write a report even if the victim did not cooperate. Saenz repeated that she did not see evidence of either of those things, so she took no notes and did not fill out a report.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday.