Evan Rachel Wood denies allegation that she manipulated Marilyn Manson accuser
Actor Evan Rachel Wood denies pressuring or manipulating model Ashley Morgan Smithline into making false rape allegations against their mutual ex, musician Marilyn Manson.
The “Westworld” and “Thirteen” star’s declaration was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday — the latest court filing in Manson’s defamation case against her and artist Illma Gore. Manson, 54, whose real name is Brian Hugh Warner, sued Wood and Gore in March 2022, alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act and impersonation over the internet.
“I never pressured or manipulated Ashley Morgan Smithline to make any accusations against Plaintiff Brian Warner, and I certainly never pressured or manipulated her to make accusations that were not true. It was Ms. Smithline who first contacted me in March 2019,” Wood said in a sworn declaration obtained by The Times.
Marilyn Manson accuser recants her story, alleges Evan Rachel Wood ‘manipulated’ her
Ashley Morgan Smithline, whose abuse lawsuit against Marilyn Manson was dismissed last month, now says Evan Rachel Wood and others pushed her to lie.
Wood — who initially denied Smithline’s allegations via a representative last week — was one of a number of women who in early 2021 publicly accused Manson of sexual abuse. She said in a documentary the following year that he had “essentially raped” her while shooting a music video in 2007. The initial allegations resulted in the embattled performer being dropped by his record label and his manager, and losing a role in the TV show “American Gods.”
In her court filing this week, Wood said that Smithline first contacted her on March 11, 2019, by commenting on an Instagram post on which Wood shared that she had been a victim of sexual abuse. (She had not yet publicly named Manson as her alleged abuser at the time, but it was well known that the two were in an on-off relationship in the early aughts.)
Admitting a screenshot of the Instagram post’s public comments as an exhibit in her 25-page filing, Wood shared separate accusations Smithline made against the rocker, including allegations that he held her captive in a ballet studio. (Wood’s Instagram account is now private.)
The “Once and Again” alum said that she did not meet nor communicate with Smithline before that comment, nor did she know who Smithline was.
“But in her comments, Ms. Smithline referenced 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.’ Mr. Warner and I were the only two people in the room when that abuse occurred,” Wood said.
The 35-year-old actor added that the first and only time she ever met Smithline in person was during an October 2020 meeting of survivors, which was filmed for the HBO documentary “Phoenix Rising.”
“During the October 2020 meeting, Ms. Smithline described abuse that she claimed Mr. Warner inflicted upon her. Ms. Smithline has always told me that she was abused by Mr. Warner,” Wood’s declaration said.
Court records reviewed by The Times and nearly two dozen interviews portray Manson as a transgressive artist who mistreated and isolated women.
Wood added that her only other communication with Smithline had been through direct messages on Instagram beginning in 2021 after Smithline shared her story with People in May of that year. Wood included screenshots of several of their exchanges, some in which Smithline maligned Manson and his legion of fans, as exhibits in the filing too.
Smithline, whose 2021 federal lawsuit against Manson was dismissed last month after she missed a court deadline to name new counsel, last week alleged that she “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 said that Wood and actor Esmé Bianco, a woman in the accusers group who reached a settlement with Warner in January, also insisted she was repressing memories.
Manson said in June 2021 that his and Smithline’s 2010 relationship had lasted less than a week and denied the allegations she leveled against him.
Actor Esmé Bianco has settled the lawsuit she brought in 2021 in which she accused Manson of sexual assault, sexual battery and human trafficking.
The embattled rocker’s legal team asked that Smithline’s declaration be admitted last week in opposition to Wood’s anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit altogether.
The “Sweet Dreams” and “Beautiful People” musician is accusing Wood and Gore of hatching plans to manufacture sexual-abuse allegations against him and to profit from them, as well as hacking into his computers and social media and impersonating an FBI agent in the process.
Wood’s Monday filing was accompanied by declarations from her attorney, Michael J. Kump, outlining his and Wood’s communications with Smithline and others, as well as a declaration from Karl Neilson, who claims to be a friend of Smithline, supporting Wood’s account.
Neilson provided a transcript and audio files of a voicemail Smithline allegedly recorded last year saying that she believed Manson’s attorney, Howard King, thought she was “a weak link” and wanted to settle with her “to turn on the other girls, and say that it was all, like, a ruse.”
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Marilyn Manson filed by model Ashley Morgan Smithline, but she is allowed to file a separate lawsuit later.
In a Tuesday statement to Rolling Stone, Smithline responded to Wood’s declaration saying: “Evan’s full of s—. That’s my comment. She’s saying anything she can to discredit me.”
King also denied Wood’s allegations in a statement to People: “I never discussed Ashley Smithline’s claims against Brian Warner until after she had reached out to me and terminated her counsel. Moreover, when Ms. Smithline recently spoke with me for almost two hours, we taped the conversation in full and that recording proves that every single thing in her declaration was taken from her words, not mine.”
King and representatives for Smithline did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ requests for comment.
Times staff writer Christie D’Zurilla contributed to this report.
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