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Johnny Depp is reportedly dating his lawyer Joelle Rich, who had previously represented the embattled actor during his losing UK trial against The Sun tabloid newspaper.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean actor sued The Sun’s publishing company News Group Newspapers back in 2020 over an April 2018 article that detailed accusations of abuse against his ex-wife Amber Heard, referring to him as a “wife-beater.”
Over the course of nearly three weeks that summer, Justice Andrew Nicol listened to grueling testimonial accounts from both Depp and Heard in which the pair accused the other of abuse. Nicol ruled later that fall that Heard’s statements were “substantially true,” and that he found “the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp” had “been proved to the civil standard.”
Rich was among Depp’s legal counsel who said it would be “ridiculous” if the actor didn’t appeal the ruling.
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TMZ has reportedly “confirmed” that the pair are now romantically seeing each other, and that the mother of two is currently in the process of getting divorced from her husband.
While Rich was not a part of Depp’s legal team during his Virginia defamation case, she was reportedly present in the courtroom for “support,” according to Us Weekly.
This news arrives a few months after Depp was rumored to be dating his U.S. lawyer Camille Vasquez, but she shut down those rumors in an interview with People.
“I guess it comes with the territory of being a woman just doing her job,” Vasquez said at the time. “It’s disappointing that certain outlets kind of ran with it or said that my interactions with Johnny — who is a friend and I’ve known and represented for four-and-a-half years now — that my interactions in any way were inappropriate or unprofessional. That’s disappointing to hear.”
TMZ had reported at the time that Depp and his entire legal counsel had grown very close during his summer defamation hearing, which he emerged victorious from after suing Heard for accusing him of abuse in a Washington Post op-ed. Vasquez said they would spend many late nights together working on Depp’s case, sometimes staying up until 5 a.m.
“I care very deeply about my clients, and we have obviously become close. But when I say we, I mean the entire team, and of course that includes Johnny,” Vasquez said at the time. “And, I’m Cuban and Colombian. I’m tactile. What do you want me to say? I hug everyone. And I’m not ashamed about that.”
The jury in that case found that Depp had, among other things, proven elements of defamation and that Heard “acted with actual malice.” Depp was awarded $10 million for compensatory damages and punitive damages of $5 million, Amber Heard and her legal team have said she plans to appeal the ruling.
Heard said in a widely viewed interview following the ruling that she had “always told the truth.”
“I would not blame the average person for looking at this and how it’s been covered and not think that it is Hollywood brats at their worst,” Heard said on NBC. “But what people don’t understand is it’s actually so much bigger than that. This is not only about our First Amendment right to speak.”
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