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Amber Heard questioned about past domestic violence charge amid defamation trial

Heard allegedly struck her then romantic partner, Taysa van Ree, in 2009 at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp Getty Images Remix By Keane Eacobellis

Amber Heard is being questioned about a past domestic violence arrest from a prior relationship amid a trial of dueling defamation lawsuits involving her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for defamation for allegedly false domestic abuse accusations she made against him that he said hurt his career. Heard is counter-suing Depp, also for defamation, for $100 million.

The highly-publicized trial has been live-streamed on the Law & Crime Network YouTube channel and other outlets from a courtroom in Fairfax, Virginia, since mid-April.

As some analysts predicted, Depp’s team is grilling Heard about a past domestic violence arrest she had during a prior relationship following Heard mentioning Kate Moss, a past relationship Depp was involved in, in her testimony.

Heard denied committing an assault in the arrest involving an alleged incident with her ex-wife, Tasya van Ree.

“You assaulted her at a Seattle airport in 2009, didn’t you?” Camille Vasquez, Depp’s lawyer, asked Heard. 

“No, I did not,” Heard responded.

“And people saw that,” Vasquez retorted.

“That’s not true,” Heard fired back.

“It was covered in the press, isn’t that true?” Vasquez asked.

“It was […] planted in the press by Johnny’s team two days after I got the [temporary restraining order],” Heard said.

Vasquez then proceeds to read a headline that says, “Amber Heard allegedly grabbed, struck her ex-girlfriend at the airport,” after multiple objections from Heard’s lawyer occasioned two sidebars to occur.

When asked if that was what the headline said after it was submitted into evidence by Vasquez, Heard said, “Yes, and that’s not true.”

Upon answering this question, the lawyers then had a third sidebar with the judge.

After that, Vasquez read another similarly worded headline. Heard’s lawyer again attempted to object, but it was overruled.

“‘Amber Heard allegedly struck her ex-girlfriend, Tasya van Ree, at the airport in 2009,’ did I read that right?”

“Yes, this is another example of the smear campaign,” Heard said.

“So Mr. Depp is not the only domestic partner you’ve assaulted, is he Ms. Heard?” Vasquez said.

“I’ve never assaulted Mr. Depp or anyone else that I’ve been romantically linked to, ever,” Heard said.

After that, Vasquez closed out her cross-examination of Heard.

In 2009, Heard was arrested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for allegedly striking van Ree. The charges were later dropped, and van Ree released a statement in 2016 saying Heard was “wrongfully accused.”

While Heard maintains she was abused by Depp, Depp claims just the opposite: he was abused by her and not the other way around.

Depp’s lawsuit against Heard centers around an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in 2018, in which she describes herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Depp isn’t named in the article, Heard made prior allegations of abuse against Depp in 2016, which he claims is referenced in the piece.

Heard also has several other witnesses lined up, including her sister Whitney Henriquez, actor Ellen Barkin, and Depp himself. This will be the second time Depp has taken the stand after he previously testified on behalf of himself and was cross-examined by Heard’s team.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or if you believe someone you know is being abused, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE or spoken with online via the hotline’s website. Mobile phone owners can also text “START” to the number 88788.

Danny Peterson
About the author

Danny Peterson

Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'