• Opening statements for the trial for the defamation suit Johnny Depp brought against Amber Heard began in Virginia Tuesday
  • Heard's lawyers alleged that the actress suffered sexual violence at the hands of Depp
  • Depp's lawyers denied the accusations, claiming that these allegations "only advantageously surfaced" after she was sued for defamation

Amber Heard has accused her ex-husband Johnny Depp of sexual assault as the actor sets out to prove defamation charges against her.

The 58-year-old actor is suing Heard, 35, for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she wrote about surviving domestic violence, though the article never mentioned Depp by name. On Tuesday, opening statements began for the defamation trial inside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

J. Benjamin Rottenborn, a lawyer for Heard, explained that the actress did not write the headline used for the online version of Heard's op-ed herself or get to approve it. It read: "Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."

However, the attorney claimed that his client indeed suffered sexual violence at the hands of Depp, People reported.

Elaine Bredehoft, another of Heard's lawyers, alleged that during a trip to Australia in 2015, Depp dragged his then-wife across the floor, punched her, kicked her and then "penetrated her with a liquor bottle," according to Reuters.

Rottenborn claimed that Depp allegedly abused and sexually assaulted Heard when the actor had a three-day, alcohol-fueled blackout toward the end of their marriage "all because she had the courage to confront him about his drinking."

"Imagine that: A concerned spouse confronts her husband about his drinking and gets 'rewarded' with that," said Rottenborn.

Depp has denied the sexual assault and violence allegations. "These fictitious claims were never made at the onset of Amber's allegations in 2016, and only advantageously surfaced years later once she was sued for defamation after noting in her op-ed that she was a victim of 'sexual violence,'" a spokesperson for the actor said in a statement to People.

"Words are key in a defamation case and conveniently, this allegation only came after that," the rep continued. "This follows a pattern of her elaborate, erroneous claims which have continued to change and evolve over time for the purpose of Hollywood shock value of which Amber has mastered and used to exploit a serious social movement."

Depp's lawyers claimed that Heard created the "false allegations" to boost her career in light of the #MeToo movement at the time.

Camille Vasquez, a lawyer for Depp, argued that Heard added sexual assault to a list of allegations because she "panicked" when she realized the "seriousness of what she'd alleged" and couldn't back down from her notoriety as a survivor. Vasquez further claimed that Heard's lawyers would be sharing "explosive" stories "designed" to "distract" from "common sense."

"In Mr. Depp's fifty-eight years, not a single woman has ever accused him of violence, and nobody in Hollywood or the world had any reason to believe he was an abuser – until Ms. Heard publicly accused him," Vasquez said.

Depp and Heard, who met making the 2011 movie "The Rum Diary," split in May 2016, when she sought a domestic violence restraining order against him, accusing him of abusing her. The actor denied the claims, and the former couple settled their divorce out of court in August 2016.

The defamation trial is expected to last about six weeks, with Depp and Heard calling in a long list of potential witnesses. Heard's ex-boyfriend Elon Musk and co-star James Franco are expected to testify on her behalf. Paul Bettany will also testify virtually for Depp.

US actor Johnny Depp walks into the courtroom for the start of the defamation trial against his former wife Amber Heard
US actor Johnny Depp walks into the courtroom for the start of the defamation trial against his former wife Amber Heard POOL via AFP / Brendan SMIALOWSKI