City University of New York (CUNY) took down an article on its website that appeared to celebrate a former student who served on Pirates of the Caribbean actor Johnny Depp’s legal team. The article was scrubbed following online backlash from Amber Heard supporters.
Administrators of the website cited the “pain” the article had caused some readers. It featured Yarelyn Mena, 26, who graduated from Hunter College in 2015 and is currently a third-year lawyer. The article noted Mena’s “copious legal research, contributions to the draft motion and preparation of witnesses and attorneys.”
Read the statement here:
We appreciate everyone who shared their concerns about a CUNY blog post shared in our newsletter featuring a recent graduate who worked on Johnny Depp’s legal team. We understand the strong negative emotions this post elicited from members of the CUNY community, particularly survivors of domestic violence and those who have been affected by it, and apologize for publishing it. We have removed it from our CUNYverse blog to avoid upsetting others or triggering traumatic experiences. The piece and especially the insensitive way it was promoted in the newsletter was not meant to convey support for Mr. Depp, implicitly or otherwise, or to call into question any allegations that were made by Amber Heard. Domestic violence is a serious issue in our society and we regret any pain this post may have caused.
Despite being part of a successful legal defense, some social media users had called for the article to be removed because it suggested CUNY supported Depp, who had been accused by former wife Amber Heard of domestic abuse – something that was found by a jury to be a defamatory allegation.
As noted by KC Johnson, a professor at CUNY Brooklyn, the apology might have cast “doubt on the jury’s verdict in the civil case.
“CUNY’s message to talented young grads who go into the law seems to be – we’ll celebrate you only if we institutionally approve of your client.”