Johnny Depp’s sister reveals their abusive mother called him ‘one eye’ at Amber Heard defamation trial

Johnny Depp’s $50m defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard began today with explosive opening arguments and the witness testimony of his sister.

r Depp’s older sister Christi Dembrowski, who is also the president of his production company Infinitum Nihil, told the court about the siblings’ early lives and growing up in Kentucky with an abusive mother described as “angry” and “high strung”.

She said her mother would hit them and their father, and called them names. She claimed her mother called Mr Depp “one-eye” because he wore an eyepatch to correct a lazy eye when he was a child.

“Did Johnny respond?” Mr Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew asked Ms Dembrowski.

“Those names were just a way of life. We got used to them,” she replied.

Ms Dembrowski told Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia that her mother treated Mr Depp and herself “similarly in how she treated dad”, adding that she “screamed, yelled, hit [us], threw things, called us names”.

Mr Chew continued his line of questioning: “How, if at all, did Johnny react when his mother would hit him?”

“He was a typical little boy, when hurt he would cry,” Ms Dembrowski said, adding: “For the most part, he just wanted to get away from it.”

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When Mr Chew asked if the Hollywood actor ever struck his mother, Mr Depp’s sister said: “When he was older, even if she hit or threw things, he never went to that place.

“He would get away, he would leave the area, go to his room,” Ms Dembrowski told the jurors.

Alluding to abuse during Mr Depp’s short-lived marriage with Ms Heard, Ms Dembrowski said she always booked a separate room for the couple when they were travelling in case an argument broke out.


Amber Heard speaks with her legal team. Photo: Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein

“When they were travelling, I wanted to make sure there was an extra room because it wasn’t unusual for them to have an argument,” she said, after admitting that she had been called Mr Depp’s “personal manager” in the past.

“I saw a repeat happening in [his] life. When we were kids in arguments and fighting would start to happen…Our first thing to do was go and hide and get away from it. I recognised, what felt to me, a repeat pattern from his childhood. I wanted to make sure there was a place he could do just that.”

Ms Dembrowski added that during Mr Depp’s previous 14-year-long marriage to Vanessa Paradis, the couple rarely fought.

Later, after discussing the death of their mother, Ms Dembrowski said she was “disgusted” to learn that Ms Heard filed for divorce just three days after she died.

Separately, Ms Dembrowski recalled Ms Heard calling her brother an “old, fat man” after Mr Depp met with Dior regarding a partnership.

“I have seen the insults, multiple times actually. She called him an ‘old, fat man’. I believe he heard her call him that.”

During cross-examination, Ms Heard’s legal team questioned Ms Dembrowski on her personal reliance on her brother’s career, suggesting that she might have a financial incentive to protect her brother’s reputation.

Mr Depp is suing Ms Heard for defamation caused by an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she accused him of being abusive.

Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim of defamation against Depp for nuisance. The actors got divorced in 2017.

Ms Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft on Tuesday claimed that Mr Depp sexually assaulted her client with a liquor bottle during a black-out drunk episode.

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for Mr Depp called Ms Heard’s allegation, which she has never made before the trial, “fictitious” and “conveniently” timed to the lawsuit.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor’s lawyers aimed to prove that Ms Heard is a “compulsive liar” and “profoundly troubled person” who tried to use a “hoax” domestic abuse story to raise her profile in Hollywood and advance her career.

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