Marilyn Manson accuser recants her story, alleges Evan Rachel Wood 'manipulated' her

A man in Goth makeup and a leather jacket points forward while performing on a stage filled with red light
Marilyn Manson performs in 2015. A woman who accused the shock-rocker of abuse recanted her allegations Thursday. (Owen Sweeney / Invision / Associated Press)
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Ashley Morgan Smithline, whose 2021 federal lawsuit against Marilyn Manson was dismissed last month after she missed a court deadline to name new counsel, now says actor Evan Rachel Wood and others manipulated her into making false accusations against the rocker.

Wood — who denies the allegations — was one of a number of women who in early 2021 publicly accused Manson of sexual abuse. She said in a documentary the next 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 November 2010, I had a brief, consensual sexual relationship with Brian Warner, also known as Marilyn Manson, during a trip I took to Los Angeles from Thailand, where I was living," Smithline, a model, said in a sworn declaration filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. "Ten years later, 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."

Wood and others — including Smithline, who was then known as Ashley Morgan — launched a public campaign in February 2021 accusing Warner of hideous abuse.

Smithline said she was invited in 2020 by Wood or artist Illma Gore to participate in a group discussion with other women who had had relationships with Warner.

A long-haired woman in a sleeveless T-shirt stands outdoors with her hands on her hips
Ashley Morgan Smithline has recanted her allegations against Marilyn Manson, a.k.a. Brian Warner. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

"I remember she [Wood] asked me whether I had been, among other things, whipped, chained, tied up, branded/cut, assaulted while sleeping, beaten, or raped," the model said in the declaration.

"She said all of these things happened to Ms. Wood and others, and that when Ms. Wood was with Mr. Warner every moment was a moment of survival. When I said, no this did not happen to me and this was not my experience, I recall being told by Ms. Wood that just because I could not remember did not necessarily mean that it did not happen.

"While at first I knew Mr. Warner did not do these things to me," Smithline continued, "I eventually began to question whether he actually did."

Wood and Gore are co-defendants in a March 2022 lawsuit filed by Warner that alleges defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act and impersonation over the internet.

Smithline's declaration, made on Sunday, was filed in connection with Warner's lawsuit. The shock-rocker's attorney is seeking court permission to use it in the case.

Smithline said actor Esmé Bianco, a woman in the accusers group who reached a settlement with Warner in January, also insisted she was repressing memories.

Smithline said Gore was the one who drafted her February 2021 statement and posted it on social media using a password the model had provided. The "narrative" that was posted "contained untrue statements" about Warner, she said — in particular a comment that "MM," the initials for Warner's stage name, had been carved into her body.

She said her attorney, Jay Ellwanger — the same person representing Bianco — "pressured" her to appear on "The View" and talk to People magazine. Smithline fired him after he filed a lawsuit on her behalf. That lawsuit is the one that was dismissed without prejudice after the model missed a December deadline to tell the court who would be representing her moving forward.

"I never intended to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Warner and have no intention now of ever pursuing criminal charges, as Mr. Warner did not ever assault or abuse me," Smithline said in her declaration. "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."

Wood denied Smithline's allegations in a statement Thursday from her representative. "Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley," the representative said. "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."

“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," Warner attorney Howard King said Thursday in a statement. "Vulnerable women were manipulated by unscrupulous individuals seeking to build their own brands and pursue their own vendettas. This sworn testimony proves it.”

Manson said in June 2021 that he and Smithline's 2010 relationship had lasted less than a week. “There are so many falsehoods within her claims that we wouldn’t know where to begin to answer them,” he said in a statement issued at the time.

“Please know that the details made public do not match my personal experience during our 7 years together as a couple,” Warner's ex-wife Dita Von Teese wrote in 2021 after Wood finally put a name to vague allegations she had made for years. “Had they, I would not have married him ... I left 12 months later due to infidelity and drug abuse." At the same time, Von Teese said she supported Warner's accusers.

In January of this year, around when Smithline's case was dismissed, a Jane Doe from New York filed a lawsuit accusing Warner of assaulting her multiple times in the 1990s when she was in her teens.

King, Warner's attorney, said at the time that his client didn't know the woman and had no memory of meeting her 28 years ago.

"She has been shopping her fabricated tale to tabloids and on podcasts for more than two years," King said in a statement at the time. "But even the most minimal amount of scrutiny reveals the obvious discrepancies in her ever-shifting stories as well as her extensive collusion with other false accusers.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.