US actor Johnny Depp says he “feels at peace” after a jury found he had won his multimillion-dollar US defamation lawsuit against his former wife Amber Heard.
The actor said his decision to pursue the case “was only made after considerable thought” and his goal was to “reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome”.
Mr Depp sued the Aquaman star for $US50 million ($A69 million) over the opinion piece published in the Washington Post, titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
The article does not mention him by name, yet his lawyers said it falsely implied he physically and sexually abused Ms Heard while they were together.
Following six weeks of evidence and roughly 13 hours of deliberation, jurors returned a verdict in favour of Mr Depp on Wednesday.
The actor was awarded compensatory damages of $US10 million and a further $US5 million in punitive damages.
In a statement, Mr Depp promised fans that “the best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun”.
“Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed,” he said
“All in the blink of an eye.
“And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
“I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Mr Depp was not present for the verdict, and was reportedly in the north east of England, after performing onstage for three nights in a row with musician Jeff Beck.
Ms Heard, who was present, looked downcast as the ruling was read out by the judge.
But the actress was awarded $US2 million in damages after her counterclaim against Mr Depp over comments made by his lawyer Adam Waldman, who allegedly referred to her abuse claims as a “hoax”, was also found to be defamatory.
Following the verdict, the actress said she was “heartbroken” but “even even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women”.
“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women.”
Ms Heard said the verdict “sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated”.
She added that Mr Depp’s attorneys had succeeded in getting jury members to “overlook” freedom of speech.
“I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly,” she said.
Mr Depp had consistently denied the “outrageous, outlandish” claims of abuse.
The court previously heard that descriptions of Mr Depp’s drug use and violence were exaggerated by Ms Heard and her legal team.
The case was brought in Virginia rather than in California, where the actors live, because The Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers located in Fairfax County.
During the course of the trial at Fairfax County District Court, legions of fans gathered outside in an attempt to enter the courtroom and observe proceedings.