A Model Who Previously Sued Marilyn Manson For Sexual Assault Now Says Evan Rachel Wood Pressured Her To Make The Allegations
A model who previously accused Marilyn Manson of sexual assault now says that Westworld actor Evan Rachel Wood pressured her into making the allegations.
In a declaration filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, Ashley Morgan Smithline said the allegations were not true and that she eventually gave in to the pressure to make the accusations after Wood repeatedly told her that just because she couldn't remember "did not necessarily mean that it did not happen." Attorneys for Manson, whose legal name is Brian Hugh Warner, filed the declaration as part of the musician's defamation suit against Wood and Ashley Gore, also known as Illma Gore.
"While at first I knew Mr. Warner did not do these things to me, eventually I began to question whether he actually did," Smithline said.
The model said that on "numerous occasions" she was told by Wood and Game of Thrones actor Esmé Bianco, who recently settled a lawsuit accusing Manson of rape, about what happened to them. In 2021, Wood, who had spoken for years about being in an abusive relationship, identified Manson as the former partner on social media as Smithline and three others also posted about the alleged sexual, physical, and emotional abuse they suffered from Manson.
Wood, who was engaged to Manson in 2010, said on her Instagram that the singer started “grooming” her when she was a teenager and continued to abuse her for years.
"I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission,” she wrote.
In her declaration, Smithline said Wood, Bianco, and others had asked whether the same things had happened to her and told her that she "may just be misremembering what happened" or "repressing [her] memories of what happened."
"Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and Ms. Bianco also happened to me," Smithline said.
Smithline also claimed that Gore had drafted and posted the statement on her Instagram accusing Manson of abuse after Wood had encouraged her and others to go public with their allegations when she did.
A spokesperson for Wood denied Smithline's claims, saying that the actor "never pressured or manipulated" the model.
"It was Ashley who first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered," the spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "It’s unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received after filing her federal lawsuit appear to have pressured her to change her testimony."
Attorneys for Gore did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Smithline sued Manson in federal court in June 2021, accusing him of sexual assault, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unlawful imprisonment. A judge dismissed her complaint last month after Smithline failed to submit a notice of new counsel or a status report after her attorney withdrew from the case, according to court records.
In her declaration, Smithline said attorney Jay Ellwanger, who filed the complaint on her behalf, did not go over its contents with her prior to filing and that she did not have an opportunity to approve it in advance.
"The complaint contained untrue statements about Mr. Warner, including that there was violence and non-consensual sexual activity in our brief relationship and that I had repressed memories of the same until meeting with Ms. Wood, Ms. Gore, and others in 2020," she said.
Smithline said that leading up to the filing of the complaint she felt pressured by Ellwanger, who also represented Bianco in her case against Manson, to go on a press tour. After the complaint was filed, Smithline fired him, she said.
Ellwanger told BuzzFeed News in an email that he was limited in what he could say due to attorney-client privilege. However, he said the “specific allegations regarding [his] representation of Ms. Smithline are categorically and verifiably false.” He also said Bianco had no comment.
Authorities in Los Angeles started investigating the allegations against Manson in February 2021 after Wood, Smithline, and the other women went public with their claims. Over the years, more than a dozen women have accused the singer of sexual abuse.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department completed its criminal investigation into Manson last year and handed it over to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. A spokesperson for the district attorney told BuzzFeed News on Friday that the case was still under review.
In her declaration, Smithline said she has no intention of refiling her lawsuit or pursuing criminal charges against Manson, saying that he "did not ever assault or abuse [her]."
"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," she said.
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