In January, a federal court dismissed a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Marilyn Manson (real name Brian Warner) by one Ashley Morgan Smithline, who last month admitted that she’d “spread publicly false accusations of abuse” after being “manipulated” by Evan Rachel Wood. Now, as she fends off a complaint from Manson, Wood is refuting Smithline’s claims.
This latest twist in the convoluted legal showdown just recently came to light in a declaration from Evan Rachel Wood, who Manson is suing for defamation. The shock-rocker and the Raleigh-born actress began an on-again, off-again relationship around 2007 and split (following a brief engagement) sometime in 2010.
In the interest of (relative) brevity – DMN has covered the sexual assault and abuse allegations against Manson in detail – multiple former partners of Manson then came forward with claims of their own. Predictably, the Canton native suffered far-reaching career setbacks (and faced a number of investigations) as a result of these allegations.
Furthermore, Manson continues to battle lawsuits from other accusers – January saw the artist settle a complaint levied by Esme Bianco while also being named in a different action yet. Additionally, the five-time Grammy nominee sued Wood for defamation in March of 2022, as noted, maintaining that she’d orchestrated an “organized attack” of fabricated sexual assault accusations.
And it’s in the latter courtroom confrontation that Wood is pushing back against the idea that she’d manipulated Smithline into making false claims involving Manson.
“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,” Smithline spelled out in her aforementioned sworn statement. “Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and (others) also happened to me.”
But according to Wood’s newly submitted declaration, she “never pressured or manipulated Ashley Morgan Smithline to make any accusations against” Manson and “certainly never pressured or manipulated her to make accusations that were not true.”
Rather, Wood communicated that it was Smithline who had initially reached out to her, commenting on a 2019 Instagram post that the actress had penned “about being a survivor of domestic violence.” Though this post was published before Wood had publicly named Manson as her alleged abuser, Smithline’s follow-up is said to have contained “information about my private experiences with Mr. Warner that was not publicly available at that time.”
“Specifically, Mr. Warner once abused me while he made me watch a particular scene from the movie Rules of Attraction,” Wood wrote. “Mr. Warner and I were the only two people in the room when that abuse occurred.”
Moreover, the “first and only time” Wood met Smithline was at an October of 2020 “meeting of survivors,” which was filmed for HBO’s Phoenix Rising documentary, per the legal text. According once again to Wood’s declaration – which was “executed” in Toronto – subsequent communications with Smithline occurred via private Instagram messages.
Needless to say, the included screenshots of said messages don’t appear to show that Wood had manipulated Smithline at all, but seem to highlight general communications and commentary about the allegations pertaining to Manson.
More as this develops.