Ashley Morgan Smithline has recanted sexual abuse allegations against Marilyn Manson, and now says she was “manipulated” by Manson’s ex-girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood to come forward with false claims in 2021.
Attorneys for Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, submitted a statement from Smithline today (Feb. 23) in a Los Angeles court relating to his defamation suit against Wood and her former partner, Illma Gore. Manson has denied all allegations of sexual abuse and assault; one suit against him was dismissed last May, and another was settled out of court last month with former Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco. Smithline’s own suit against Manson was dismissed in early January.
The statement says Smithline, who began a “brief, consensual sexual relationship” with Manson in 2010, was encouraged to “spread publicly false accusations of abuse” against him. “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,” she said. “Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and [others] also happened to me.”
“Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley,” a spokesperson for Wood said in a statement. “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.”
Wood went public with claims of abuse against Manson in February 2021, and multiple, similar lawsuits followed. In Manson’s defamation suit, filed in March 2022, he alleged that Wood and Gore had “secretly recruited, coordinated, and pressured prospective accusers to emerge simultaneously” with false claims against him.
Smithline now says she was contacted by other alleged victims of Manson’s violent behavior, but when she told them she’d had a different experience, they implied she “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.”
Unsure of how to proceed, Smithline says she allowed Gore to draft a statement accusing Manson of abuse and then post it on her Instagram account. Smithline was then put in touch with attorney Jay Ellwanger, who was also representing Bianco in her suit against Manson and filed suit again him shortly thereafter.
In that suit, she alleged that Manson lured her to Los Angeles from Bangkok, where she was modeling at the time, with the promise of being cast in a remake of the ’90s movie True Romance. The relationship went south after that, with Manson allegedly berating Smithline in front of his bandmates. She claimed he carved his initials, “M.M.,” into her thigh and that he threw a Nazi knife at her, whipped, shook, and strangled her.
“Leading up to the filing of the complaint, I felt pressured by Mr. Ellwanger to go on a press tour, which included an interview on The View and an interview and photoshoot with People magazine,” Smithline said. “I was very uncomfortable doing this press but felt pressured to do it.”
In a statement, Manson’s attorney Howard King said, “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. This sworn testimony proves it.”