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Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit: Amber Heard’s personal assistant accuses actress of abusive work environment


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Amber Heard’s former personal assistant has accused the ‘Aquaman’ actress of creating an abusive work environment in a videotaped deposition played Thursday during actor Johnny Depp. defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife in Fairfax, Virginia.

Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 35, for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post alleging she was the victim of domestic violence. Heard has never identified Depp directly, but the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ actor’s attorneys say his allegations have had a negative impact on Depp’s career and his relationship with his family.

In a deposition originally filed in February, Kate James accused Heard, her former boss, of being “verbally abusive” and underpaying her employees.

Kate James, Amber Heard’s former assistant, testifies via video during the US$50 million Depp vs. Heard libel trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia.
(Shawn Thew/Pool Photo via AP)

Heard would apparently bombard James in the middle of the night with text messages, James said.

JOHNNY DEPP, AMBER HEARD TRIAL CONTINUES: MARRIAGE COUNSELOR CLAIMS STARS IN ‘MUTUAL ABUSE’

“Between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., the barrage would begin,” she testified. “That’s what I would wake up to. It’s all incoherent, doesn’t really make sense. Just someone to blame.”

Heard allegedly “screamed” at James several times over the phone and once in person. During a confrontation over James’ salary, Heard went crazy, the actress’ former assistant said.

Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit: Amber Heard’s personal assistant accuses actress of abusive work environment

American actress Amber Heard sits in the courtroom as her former personal assistant Kate James gives evidence by video during the US$50 million Depp vs Heard libel trial.
(Shawn Thew/Pool Photo via AP)

“She jumped out of her chair, put her face about 4 inches from my face – she spat in my face and said, ‘How dare you ask me for the salary you’re asking for?'” the ex- recalled employee.

JOHNNY DEPP, AMBER HEARD TRIAL DAY 3: DEPP’S CHILDHOOD FRIEND LAUGHS, SCREAMS OUTSIDE COURT ROOM

James described herself as grossly underpaid and said she was later fired because Heard said she could no longer afford her services. The combative ex-employee also described Heard as “dramatic” and said she doesn’t believe Johnny Depp abused his ex-wife, as Heard’s lawyers alleged during the trial.

“She paid me $25 an hour to start. And she finally agreed after yelling abuse at me that she would pay me $50,000 a year once I was full time. And that was after I worked for over ten years as a personal assistant,” James said.

Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit: Amber Heard’s personal assistant accuses actress of abusive work environment

American actor Johnny Depp looks over his shoulder as he sits in the courtroom during the US$50 million Depp vs. Heard libel trial at Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Florida Virginia.
(Shawn Thew/Pool Photo via AP)

The former assistant then testified that she had never witnessed or heard of any abuse against Heard from Depp.

“I never had any proof of it. I was there almost every day at her house, then at his house, and finally at the Downtown Lofts,” she recalls. “It was a daily experience morning, noon, night, every day of the week. So, you know, I mean I never once saw any evidence of anything.”

A source close to the defense said James “appeared to be a disgruntled employee after being fired by Miss Heard”.

“Furthermore, her credibility is in question, as she admitted asking Mr Depp to be on her payroll after he was fired. She also contradicted her testimony from the UK on several occasions and admitted not being truthful with what she testified, so how can we believe everything she says?” the source said.

Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit: Amber Heard’s personal assistant accuses actress of abusive work environment

American actress Amber Heard is seen inside the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard libel trial at Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia .
(Brendan SMIALOWSKI / various sources / AFP)

Meanwhile, a source close to Depp said James “gave sworn evidence of his experience working in a troubling, underpaid and abusive work environment during his employment with Ms Heard, stating that she never seen or heard anything related to allegations of physical abuse between the two and, in fact, experienced her own forms of abuse from Amber.”

“She also details incidents of abuse she witnessed and heard from members of Amber’s family, including her sister and mother who were ‘terrified’ of her,” the source said.

Heard’s attorneys, Benjamin Rottenborn and Elaine Bredehoft, argued otherwise in their opening statements.

Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit: Amber Heard’s personal assistant accuses actress of abusive work environment

American actress Amber Heard talks with her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft during the $50 million Depp vs. Heard libel trial at Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia.
(Brendan SMIALOWSKI / SWIMMING POOL / AFP)

Both attorneys said evidence would be presented during the trial showing how Depp allegedly abused Heard.

DAY 2: DEPP V. TRIAL HEARD UNDERWAY, LAWYERS SUPPORT ABUSE AND MANIPULATION FROM BOTH PARTIES

Rottenborn said Tuesday that the actress would speak later in the trial and detail the “graphic and horrifying terms” of her marriage to Depp. He mentioned an alleged abuse case in which Depp “kicked” Heard in the back of a private jet, calling the actor a “revenge-obsessed husband.”

The attorney also told the jury, “You’re going to see who the real Johnny Depp is – behind the fame, behind the pirate costumes. Because Johnny Depp carried this case, it’s all going to come out.”

Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit: Amber Heard’s personal assistant accuses actress of abusive work environment

U.S. actor Johnny Depp (L) sits with his legal team during the US$50 million Depp vs. Heard libel trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. April 14, 2022.
(Shawn Thew/Pool Photo via AP)

Bredehoft also previewed the graphic abuse allegations against Depp during his opening statements on Tuesday. Bredehoft described various abuse allegations beginning in 2015 and ending before their marriage ended in 2017, involving the actor who allegedly ‘kicked’, ‘punched’ and threw objects at Heard . The lawyer also described Depp as “delusional” and “paranoid”, saying he was drinking and doing drugs before he allegedly “assaulted” Heard on several occasions.

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She said video and photographic evidence of the alleged abuse will be shown to the jury during the trial.

Dr. Laura Anderson, the couple’s former marriage counselor, also testified Thursday and confirmed that she had seen bruises on Heard before.

“[S]he took the challenge if he started first, which… in my opinion, it had been established throughout the relationship, that she fought as hard as he did,” Anderson said.

Heard’s legal team also argues that publishing an op-ed in The Washington Post portraying himself as a victim of abuse, without naming Depp, was within his First Amendment rights.


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