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Amber Heard argues semantics over unfulfilled charity pledges

Camille Vasquez, Depp's lawyer, is proving to be an unrelenting cross-examiner for Heard.

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

Amber Heard is being questioned over pledges to charities she’s made that have remained unfulfilled, which resulted in a brief spat over semantics, 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.

Depp’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, is proving to be as unrelenting a presence for Heard as Heard’s lawyer, Benjamin Rottenborn, was for Depp during his testimony.

In the latest back and forth under cross-examination between Vasquez and Heard, a battle of semantics ensued over the definition of “pledge” versus “donation.”

Vasquez questioned Heard over an Oct. 2018 interview featuring the Aquaman star claiming to have “donated” her entire $7 million divorce settlement to charitable organizations. The donation was to be split between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. 

“That’s correct I made that statement as soon as I got a divorce and we reached the settlement. That’s when I pledged it, right then,” Heard said.

“But you hadn’t donated your entire $7 million settlement to charity at that point, had you?” Vasquez said.

“That’s incorrect,” Heard fired back.

It was a strange answer given the fact that Heard testified just hours earlier that she hasn’t donated the full amount she promised, explaining that she had to halt payment installments due to being sued by Depp.

When Vasquez pressed Heard further on the subject, Heard said, “I pledged the entirety of the settlement…”

But Vasquez interrupted her, saying, “Ms. Heard, that’s not my question, please.”

“Sitting here today, you have not donated the $7 million — donated, not pledged — donated the $7 million divorce settlement to charity?” Vasquez asked.

“I use ‘pledge’ and ‘donation’ synonymous with one another,” Heard began to explain, before being interrupted again.

“But I don’t. I don’t use it synonymously” Vasquez interrupted. “Ms. Heard — respectfully. That’s not my question. As of today, you have not paid $3.5 million of your own money to the ACLU? Yes or no?”

“I have not yet,” Heard finally relented. She also said she has not fulfilled her $3.5 million commitment to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, either.

Vasquez further questioned Heard about what she wanted out of publicly pledging the donations. Heard admitted while it’s always good to generate good press, generally speaking, the pledges to charity were more about “clearing [her] name.”

Despite Heard claiming Depp suing her is the roadblock that is in the way of her fulfilling her charitable obligations, she was questioned by Depp’s team about whether Heard was given the full $7 million settlement more than a year before Depp sued Heard. Depp’s other attorney, Ben Chew, could be seen handing a sticky note to Vasquez immediately prior to her asking that question.

Heard said she disagreed with the notion that she had received the full settlement 13 months before being sued by Depp.

Earlier Monday, Heard said she chose to fulfill her charitable pledges with the ACLU in installments because she had been receiving her settlement from Depp in installments also.

In the Heard-penned 2018 Washington Post article at the center of Depp’s lawsuit, 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 to testify, 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.

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.'