LONDON (AP) — Amber Heard’s former personal assistant claimed Wednesday that she told the model-actress about a violent sexual assault she had endured, only for Heard to “twist” the story for her own use.
Kate James gave dramatic testimony at Johnny Depp’s libel trial against a British tabloid newspaper that accused the actor of abusing ex-wife Heard during their relationship.
Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the paper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that called him a “wife-beater.” He strongly denies abusing Heard.
James, who worked for Heard between 2012 and 2015, gave evidence in support of Depp, and said she had told Heard that she was raped at machete-point in Brazil about 25 years ago.
She said she was shocked to learn that in a witness statement, Heard misrepresented and exploited the incident.
“She referred directly to a violent rape that occurred to me 26 years ago and she twisted it into her own story and she used it for her own use,” James said by video link from Los Angeles.
“I am a sexual violence survivor and that’s very, very serious to take that stance if you are not one,” she added.
Heard is due to give evidence in the case later this week.
Heard, 34, has made 14 allegations of violence by 57-year-old Depp between 2013 and 2016, in settings including his private island in the Bahamas, a rented house in Australia and a private jet. He denies them all.
Depp and Heard give wildly differing accounts of their volatile relationship, which began after they met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary.” They married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce the following year, and the divorce was finalized in 2017.
Also on Wednesday Depp’s former estate manager accused Heard of asking him to lie under oath after she was charged with bringing her two dogs to Australia illegally.
Kevin Murphy claimed Heard pressured him to commit perjury about the traveling terriers or risk losing his job.
“She wanted me to say essentially that it was my fault in one way or another that the paperwork wasn’t completed, so that I could take the blame for her,” Murphy said.
Heard was charged in July 2015 with bringing Yorkshire terriers Pistol and Boo to the country illegally earlier that year. She pleaded guilty in April 2016 and escaped a conviction after expressing remorse.
In a written witness statement for Depp’s libel case, Murphy said Heard asked him to falsely claim that she didn’t know it was illegal to bring the dogs to Australia, which has strict animal quarantine rules. Murphy claimed Heard said “’I want your help on this. I wouldn’t want you to have a problem with your job.’”
Murphy gave evidence to the case at the High Court Wednesday in London by video link from Chicago. He was accused of lying by The Sun’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, who pointed out that he had subsequently made a misleading declaration in the Australian court case. Murphy said he did so at Heard’s request because he was afraid of losing his job.
“Why on Earth did you not go to Mr. Depp to ask him to intervene rather than just lying on oath?” the lawyer asked.
Murphy said: “Because Amber wielded a lot of power and would have made my life miserable.”
Murphy’s account was backed by by James, who was Heard’s personal assistant between March 2012 and February 2015.
In a written witness statement, James said Heard ignored advice from her and Murphy that taking the dogs to Australia would be problematic.
She said Heard “deliberately smuggled the dogs into Australia. As in several circumstances which I observed, it was as if she felt that she was above the law.”
James described Heard as a demanding employer, saying she received “incoherent, abusive text messages” from Heard between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on an almost daily basis.
Wass, The Sun’s lawyer, suggested that James had colluded with Depp to tell lies that made Heard look bad.
“That’s simply not true,” James said.