Actress Amber Heard and Telsa CEO Elon Musk paid millions in donations to the American Civil Liberties Union ahead of the organization working to place Heard's op-ed on surviving domestic abuse.
Heard has yet to live up to her promise to donate half of her divorce settlement to the organization, according to the ACLU General Counsel Terence Dougherty, whose video deposition appeared in court on Thursday.
Dougherty learned of Heard's intentions in an email, where a donation of $3.5 million was promised. Having received a total of $7 million over 15 months in the settlement, the actress's lawyers initially reported that she also planned to donate half to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Dougherty acknowledged that the email wasn't a "legally binding pledge."
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"The fact that the pledge form wasn't signed cast some doubt on [Heard's donation]," Doughtery said in his video deposition. "Once Ms. Heard began having financial difficulties, we recognized that that might impact whether the $3.5 million was paid."
Johnny Depp donated $200,000 to Children's Hospital Los Angeles directly on her behalf, giving the rest to Heard. As of 2019, Depp's lawyer Andrew Caldecott revealed that Children's Hospital Los Angeles wrote to Depp, claiming that Heard hadn't made any additional payments.
Heard's first contribution to the ACLU was given through her ex-husband, Depp, who paid $100,000 in her name. When Dougherty presented evidence including the number amounts that Heard had contributed, he did not include this amount in the total.
From 2016 to 2018, Heard donated $1.2 million to the organization across three payments. The second payment of $500,000 came in February 2017 while Heard was dating billionaire Elon Musk.
Simultaneously, Musk made a separate donation of $5 million, through the investment company Vanguard, the same entity through which Heard's contribution was made.
Dougherty traced the money, revealing it was actually Musk's but made in Heard's name. Despite this, he included the amount in Heard's total donations to the ACLU, unlike the one made in her name by Depp.
The actress's third and final payment as of July 2020, according to Dougherty, was issued in May 2018 via investment company Fidelity.
At the same time, Musk donated $1 million through the same company. Dougherty could not confirm if Heard's donation was in fact Musk's. This amount of $350,000 was added to Heard's total, bringing it up to $1.3 million, including Depp's donation.
The final $2.2 million has yet to be received.
Depp snickered during the revelation of Heard's contributions.
The ACLU's general counsel described a period during which Heard's representatives scrambled to convince the media that Heard's pledge was meant to take place over 10 years.
Dougherty also provided insight into how the ACLU assisted Heard in publishing her op-ed.
He became aware of the piece when he received an email from a representative promising a story behind Heard who had been "beaten up" by her husband. Throughout the draft process, Dougherty revealed more emails complaining about Heard's team's harsh editing.
"Amber's lawyers took out some of the stuff that made it really powerful," one email said. In another instance, the lawyers insisted Heard's divorce not be mentioned within the narrative regarding her restraining order.
Despite the edits, Dougherty claimed it was clear to him who the piece was about.
Dougherty said he "knew that she was referring to Johnny Depp in her marriage" after he'd reviewed previous drafts.
It was the ACLU that placed the article with the Washington Post per its expertise and "in consultation with" Heard.
Dougherty was prompted in emails with Heard's representatives to publish the piece in "optimal timing" of the Aquaman movie's release.
As a result, it was published three days before the movie's release, prompting one representative to call it a "tremendous campaign for Aquaman."
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When it came to the title of the op-ed, "I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change," Dougherty testified that the ACLU was not involved. He suggested instead that the Washington Post titled the piece, also testifying that Heard was not contacted about the headline.
Missed any of the testimony? Here’s our latest recap.