A woman who sued Marilyn Manson for sexual assault says in a new legal filing that the allegations were untrue and that she was “manipulated” by Manson’s ex-girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood.
While Marilyn Manson is in the process of suing Evan Rachel Wood for allegedly orchestrating an “organized attack” of false sexual assault accusations, one of the accusers, Ashley Morgan Smithline, has recanted her claims. Manson’s lawyers filed a statement on February 23 in which Smithline claims that she had been “manipulated by Ms. Wood” and others to the point that she agreed to “spread publicly false accusations of abuse” against Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner.
“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,” wrote Smithline in her sworn statement. “Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and (others) also happened to me.”
A spokesperson for Evan Rachel Wood vehemently denied Smithline’s allegations, telling Billboard that “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.”
Smithline’s case was initially dismissed last month after she fired her lawyer and opted not to participate in the case.
At least five women have accused Marilyn Manson of sexual assault, leading to a two-year legal battle for the singer. Wood initially posted her allegations to Instagram in February 2021, and lawsuits quickly followed from Smithline, Manson’s former assistant Ashley Walters, Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco, and at least one more individual who wished to remain anonymous.
Manson has denied all allegations, filing his own defamation lawsuit in March 2022 against Wood and another woman, Illma Gore, whom he claims “secretly recruited, coordinated, and pressured prospective accusers to emerge simultaneously” with false accusations against him.
Wood’s attorneys are seeking to dismiss Manson’s case, citing California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute, which aims to make dismissing cases threatening free speech easier. Wood’s lawyers allege that Manson’s case is an effort to punish Wood for speaking publicly about years of abuse at his hand.
“For years, plaintiff Brian Warner raped and tortured defendant Evan Rachel Wood and threatened retaliation if she told anyone about it,” wrote Wood’s attorneys. “Warner has now made good on those threats by filing the present lawsuit.”
Manson’s attorneys intend to cite Smithline’s new statements withdrawing her accusations as a reason to deny the anti-SLAPP motion, claiming that Smithline’s declaration “proves” the lawsuit’s core accusations are untrue.