Artist News Legal

Marilyn Manson accuser recants sexual assault claims, says she was “manipulated”

By | Published on Friday 24 February 2023

Marilyn Manson

One of the women who sued Marilyn Manson – real name Brian Warner – over sexual assault allegations has recanted her claims, saying that she was “manipulated” into making them by actor Evan Rachel Wood.

In a new sworn statement presented to a New York court by Manson’s lawyers yesterday, Ashley Morgan Smithline says: “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”.

Smithline claimed in a 2021 legal filing that the musician had violently assaulted her several times between 2010 and 2013 – allegations that he has always denied.

In October, her lawyer Jay Ellwanger was granted permission to step down from the case and the court gave Smithline three months to appoint new representation or officially confirm that she would be representing herself. The case was dismissed by default when that deadline passed in January without a response.

The new statement comes as part of separate defamation lawsuit launched by Manson against his former girlfriend Wood. He sued her and her girlfriend Illma Gore a year ago, ahead of the premiere of a documentary in which Wood made her own claims of abuse against Manson.

The musician has claimed that the film and various lawsuits launched by other women were part of “coordinated attack” attempting to convince people that the ‘shock rock’ character he plays on stage is who he is in real life.

Smithline’s new statement supports Manson’s claims, saying that she was “manipulated” by Wood, Gore, Ellwanger and actor Esmé Bianco (who is also suing Manson), and as a result agreed to “spread publicly false accusations of abuse”.

“While at first I knew Mr Warner did not do these things to me, I eventually I began to question whether he actually did”, she says.

“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 adds that she has not received any payment from Manson and has no intention of re-filing her legal claim against him.

Speaking to Billboard, Ellwanger said that he was “constrained by … client confidentially” when responding to this new statement from his former client, but added: “What I can say is that the specific allegations regarding my representation of Ms Smithline are categorically and verifiably false”.

Meanwhile, Manson’s lawyer Howard King said in a statement: “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”.

Wood, Gore and Bianco have not responded.