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Amber Heard has donated less than half of a $3.5 million pledge she made to the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the organization’s general counsel.
Terence Dougherty, also the ACLU’s chief operating officer, made the revelations Thursday during a pre-recorded video deposition on the 11th day of Johnny Depp’s explosive $50 million defamation trial against his ex-wife.
After the couple finalized their divorce in 2016, Heard received from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor a $7 million settlement, half of which she publicly pledged to donate to the ACLU; the other half was promised to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“We are incredibly grateful that Ms. Heard has so very generously shown her support for the important and necessary advocacy for victims of domestic violence,” Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director, said in a statement at the time.
Heard promised to give the $3.5 million to the civil rights nonprofit over 10 years. However, in a video deposition taken in December, Dougherty said that the ACLU had so far received only $1.3 million in Heard’s name.
The foundation also believes that one $500,000 payment made in 2017 came from “a donor-advised fund that was set up by Elon Musk.” The “Aquaman” actress dated the Tesla CEO after she split from Depp.
According to Dougherty, the ACLU reached out to Heard in 2019 about the installments “and we learned that she was having financial difficulties,” the Fairfax, Va., court heard.
Depp and Heard were married from 2015 to 2017. In December 2018, Heard published an opinion piece about domestic violence in The Washington Post.
Heard, who didn’t mention Depp’s name in the piece, wrote that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
Depp then sued his ex-wife for defamation. His lawyers argue that the piece references abuse allegations she made against Depp in 2016, which the actor says are untrue.
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According to new evidence introduced on Thursday, Heard pushed to include details of the couple’s marriage in the op-ed, even though her lawyers thought differently.
During another shocking day in court, jurors also heard that the ACLU was involved in writing and placing the op-ed, and that it was timed to coincide with the movie “Aquaman,” a 2018 DC Comics movie starring Jason Momoa as the titular superhero.
“The goal is to get this out this week to capitalize on the tremendous campaign for ‘Aquaman,’” Jessica Weitz, an ACLU employee who coordinated with Heard, wrote in an email.
According to Dougherty, ACLU lawyers reviewed the op-ed at various stages. They also directed her lawyers to do the same, to make sure the piece didn’t run afoul of a non-disclosure agreement she had with Depp.
During the revision process, Heard sent back a version of the story that “specifically neutered much of the copy regarding her marriage,” according to the Weitz email.
“The language that wound up in the final op-ed piece was very different from the original language,” Dougherty said. “It did not refer directly to Ms. Heard’s relationship with Johnny Depp.”
With News Wire Services