Last month, it was reported that the sexual assault lawsuit filed against Marilyn Manson (legal name Brian Warner) by model Ashley Smithline had been dismissed by a judge. In the lawsuit that Smithline filed, she accused Manson of sexually assaulting her multiple times back in 2010; this lawsuit ended up being dismissed upon Smithline firing her lawyer and her not actively involving herself in the case.
However, per a new report from Billboard, Smithline is now claiming that she was “manipulated” by actor Evan Rachel Wood to “spread publicly false accusations of abuse” about Manson.
Back in 2021, Wood took to social media and named Manson as her abuser. Upon Wood stepping forward, multiple other women came forward and spoke about their individual experiences of being allegedly abused by him.
Per a sworn statement, Smithline shares the following:
“I succumbed to pressure from Evan Rachel Wood and her associates to make accusations of rape and assault against Mr. Warner that were not true. Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and [others] also happened to me.”
In March of 2022, Manson shared that he was suing Wood for defamation; Smithline’s more recent allegations align with allegations that Manson has made in regard to Wood. Smithline alleges that she was contacted by other alleged victims and says that she initially denied that any abuse took place. Per Smithline:
“While at first I knew Mr. Warner did not do these things to me, I eventually I began to question whether he actually did. On numerous occasions, I was told … that I may just be misremembering what happened, repressing my memories of what happened, or that my memories had not yet surfaced — which they said happened to people against whom these acts were perpetrated.”
She says she eventually agreed to participate and that an accusation statement was drafted for her by Illma Gore (Wood’s girlfriend), and that Gore allegedly posted the statement onto her account for her.
Smithline was eventually contacted by lawyer Jay Ellwanger, who happened to have represented actor Esmé Bianco; it was reported last month that Bianco’s lawsuit against Manson was settled out of court. Smithline alleges that she felt “pressured” by Ellwanger to take part in a press tour regarding her allegations against Manson.
Smithline says that “Looking back, I feel I was manipulated by Ms. Wood, Ms. Gore, Ms. Bianco, and Mr. Ellwanger to spread publicly false accusations of abuse against Mr. Warner.”
Smithline says that she doesn’t intend on refiling her case against Manson and that she has “never received any money” from the shock-rocker as part of any settlement agreement in an effort to stop her from pursuing her case.
Ellwanger told Billboard that his response to Smithline’s claims is “constrained by ethical obligations regarding client confidentiality” to his former client; however, he does add: “But what I can say is that the specific allegations regarding my representation of Ms. Smithline are categorically and verifiably false.”
A spokesperson for Wood shared the following with Billboard in regard to Smithline’s accusations:
“Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley. It was Ashley who first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered. It’s unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received after filing her federal lawsuit appear to have pressured her to change her testimony.”
Attorneys representing Wood are striving to dismiss Manson’s lawsuit, citing California’s “anti-SLAPP statute” – this is a law that strives to provide ease in dismissing cases that threaten free speech (which they believe that’s what Manson’s case is trying to do).
Wood’s attorneys say “For years, plaintiff Brian Warner raped and tortured defendant Evan Rachel Wood and threatened retaliation if she told anyone about it. Warner has now made good on those threats by filing the present lawsuit.”
Attorneys representing Manson want to cite Smithline’s statement in an effort to deny the anti-SLAPP motion since such motions do require courts to access the validity of a case’s allegations. In an effort to ask the court to take notice of the filing, Manson’s attorneys wrote:
“This newly obtained evidence is critical to Warner’s opposition to the anti-SLAPP motions, in which defendants argue that there is no ‘admissible evidence substantiating his allegations.’”
Howard King, an attorney representing Manson, says that Smithline’s recent statement “proves” that the “core” of Manson’s lawsuit is true. He told Billboard:
“As we have always said, the coordinated campaign of #MeToo lies against Brian Warner is going to go down as one of the greatest hoaxes of all time. Vulnerable women were manipulated by unscrupulous individuals seeking to build their own brands and pursue their own vendettas.”
More on this story as it develops.
If you or someone you care about is suffering abuse at the hands of their partner, please contact RAINN or call 800.656.HOPE (4673). Remember: you are not alone.