An old friend and neighbor of Johnny Depp testified on Wednesday that Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, had told her that the movie star threw a phone at her and hit her inside the couple’s penthouse in Los Angeles.
But Isaac Baruch said he never noticed any evidence of abuse on Heard’s face, neither when he first saw her in the hallway nor the next day in the sunlit lobby of his art deco building.
“She has her face like this to show me, and I’m looking, and I inspect her face,” Baruch said of the encounter in May 2016. “And I don’t see anything. … I don’t see a cut, a bruise, swelling, redness.”
Baruch is the second witness called at the trial over Depp’s allegations that Heard falsely portrayed him as a domestic abuser. Depp says an op-ed Heard wrote for The Washington Post in 2018 indirectly defamed him.
Heard refers to herself in the article as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” She doesn’t name Depp. But her lawyers argue that she was clearly referring to a restraining order that Heard filed for in May 2016, just after Depp told him that she wanted a divorce from her.
Isaac Baruch speaks in the courtroom of the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)
Depp denies abusing Heard.
Baruch, a painter, has been friends with Depp since 1980. He also worked at the Viper Room when the Pirates of the Caribbean actor was part owner of the famous Los Angeles club. Baruch said Depp has supported him financially, providing him with places to live and giving him around $100,000 over the years.
Baruch testified that he didn’t notice makeup on Heard’s face when she said Depp hit her. But under cross-examination, Baruch admitted that he did not know whether Heard, who worked with cosmetics giant L’Oreal, had applied concealer, foundation, powder or tint.
At one point, Baruch got emotional, saying that Heard needs to “take responsibility and move on.”
He said he never saw violence from Depp.
“His family has been completely torn apart by all of this, and it’s not fair,” Baruch said. “It’s not right, what she did. …She’s crazy.”
Baruch also testified that he saw security video showing Heard’s sister, Whitney, throwing a fake punch at Heard’s face as the two waited for an elevator in the building where he, Depp and Heard lived.
“And then they start laughing,” Baruch said.
Depp’s lawyers argue that the sisters were practicing an actual hit to fake abuse by Depp.
But Heard’s lawyers have said the evidence will show that Depp physically and sexually assaulted Heard on multiple occasions. And they have argued that Depp’s denials lack credibility because he often drank and used drugs to the point of passing out and not remembering anything he did.
The first witness called for the trial was Depp’s older sister, Christi Dembrowski, who faced a barrage of questions from Heard’s lawyers about Depp’s drug and alcohol use.
As she took the stand Tuesday, Dembrowski said she and her brother went through a difficult childhood in which Depp learned to hide from an abusive mother. Dembrowski, who also worked as Depp’s personal manager, said she saw the same pattern in Depp’s relationship with Heard, adding that she would book an additional hotel room for Depp if Heard started a fight.
appears in the courtroom. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)
But Dembrowski ran into trouble under cross-examination when asked why he sent Depp text messages in February 2014 that read, “Stop drinking. Quit coke. Stop taking pills.
Heard’s attorneys asked similar questions Wednesday, zeroing in on a text message exchange between Heard and Dembrowski in February 2014.
“Millisecond. Heard says, ‘JD is out on a spree,’ and your response is, ‘Where are the kids?’ – Right?” asked J. Benjamin Rottenborn.
Dembrowski said that was correct. He also confirmed a 2014 email exchange he had with a doctor who treated Depp’s addiction to painkillers.
“Do you think your brother needed help with drugs and alcohol?” Rottenborn asked.
Dembrowski responded that she was concerned about Depp’s use of medication, but did not believe he had a problem with drugs or alcohol in general, or romanticized drug culture.
Both Depp and Heard are expected to testify at the Fairfax County Circuit Court trial, scheduled for six weeks, along with actors Paul Bettany and James Franco and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Heard’s attorneys had sought to have the case tried in California, where the actors reside. But a judge ruled that Depp was within his rights to take the case to Virginia because The Washington Post’s computer servers for its online edition are located in the county. Depp’s lawyers have said they filed the case in Virginia in part because the laws here are more favorable to his case.