Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor has apologized for the “hurt and confusion” caused by comments she made in support of actor Johnny Depp.
- Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor tweeted her support for Mr Depp and disparaged Ms Heard
- She also referred to the trial in Parliament last week when she said a Labor MP was ‘a total fake’ and compared her to Ms Heard.
- Head of sexual assault service says comments could make it harder for surviving victims to come forward
Ms O’Connor said she had ‘looked too much’ at the libel lawsuit involving Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
“I want to acknowledge and sincerely apologize for the hurt and confusion I have caused by getting drawn into the Depp Heard trial evidence debate,” she posted on social media.
“The trial itself has triggered victim-survivors everywhere, including me.”
Unlike a previous UK libel suit, Mr Depp won his US libel case against Ms Heard.
During the six-week trial in Fairfax, Virginia, Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard accused each other of violence.
The seven-member jury found that a statement by Ms Heard about domestic violence in a 2018 opinion piece clearly referred to Mr Depp.
He received $10.35 million.
The jury also ruled in favor of Ms Heard, who said she was defamed by Mr Depp’s lawyer when he called her abuse allegations a hoax.
The members of the jury estimated that Ms. Heard should receive $2 million.
Mr. Depp’s fans were at the Fairfax County Courthouse every day during the trial, and the proceedings were televised.
Experts have warned of the public nature of the case and the intensity of public discourse surrounding it could have a deterrent effect on survivors of domestic violence.
Ms O’Connor took to her Twitter account to show her support for Mr Depp and criticized Ms Heard and her trial testimony.
She also raised the lawsuit in state parliament last week, speaking in a debate to criticize Labor MP Michelle O’Byrne, who Ms O’Connor said was ‘about as good at that desk that Amber Heard is in the lawsuit of Johnny Depp, a total false”.
Ms O’Connor withdrew the comment after Ms O’Byrne raised a point of order, saying she took personal offense to the comment.
In her apology posted on Twitter, Ms O’Connor also said:
“I recognize that the trial and the verdict have been weaponized by those who hate women, abusers and far-right elements. To have a safer world for women and children, and all vulnerable people, we must maintain the right rage against these forces, as I have done throughout my life.
“To the victim-survivors and those who represent them, and to the supporters of the Greens, I am sorry that I did not bite my tongue in this case. I had watched the trial too much. the last 14 years will, ultimately, speak for themselves.”
Shortly before Ms O’Connor apologized, feminist writer Clementine Ford chimed in, saying it was ‘concerning to see the leader of the Tasmanian Greens… come out so strong’ in support of Mr Depp.
“What a terrible slap in the face for the victim-survivors of Tasmania,” Ms Ford tweeted.
Elinor Heard of Engender Equality, an organization that supports people affected by family and domestic violence in Tasmania, said focusing on a celebrity trial was not helpful.
She said it was good to see Ms O’Connor’s “self-reflection” in the form of her apology.
Kathryn Fordyce, chief executive of Northern Tasmania’s sexual assault support service, Laurel House, said it was “regrettable” that Ms O’Connor weighed in on the comments about Ms Heard.
“She is a woman with a leadership role and a very public profile and commentary that makes it harder for victim-survivors, or anyone else, to speak openly about their experiences of domestic and sexual violence,” Ms Fordyce said. .
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