A former girlfriend who had accused Marilyn Manson of abuse has backed away from the allegations in a declaration of support filed in his defamation lawsuit against Evan Rachel Wood.
Ashley Morgan Smithline alleges that she publicly accused Manson of sexual assault and sexual battery only because she was pressured by Wood, according to a declaration filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
A representative for Wood denied the allegations, saying in a statement that “Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley.”
Wood has said Manson “horrifically abused” her for years.
Manson has denied any wrongdoing.
Manson, whose legal name is Brian Warner, filed a defamation suit last year accusing Wood of having “secretly recruited, coordinated and pressured” women to accuse him of abuse.
Smithline came forward with allegations against Manson in an interview with People magazine in May 2021. She accused him of having subjected her to physical, sexual and psychological abuse from 2010 to 2013.
Manson was accused of whipping Smithline, carving his initials into her body, penetrating her while she was unconscious and other conduct. The People report included a photo of Smithline in a towel, showing what appeared to be a scar on her thigh that she referred to in the interview and alleged was caused by Manson.
Smithline told People that she began to heal only after she spoke with other women about their experiences with Manson in 2020. She said meeting others, including Wood, helped lessen “these feelings of guilt and shame.”
In the new court document, Smithline says she felt “manipulated” by the women to make the allegations. She said in the declaration of support that she had denied being abused when she spoke with Wood in 2020.
“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,” Smithline said in her filing.
Smithline filed a federal lawsuit in 2021 accusing Manson of sexual assault, human trafficking and unlawful imprisonment.
Wood’s representative alleges “it was Ashley who first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered,” adding, “it’s unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received after filing her federal lawsuit appear to have pressured her to change her testimony.”
A judge dismissed the suit without prejudice last month after her attorney, Jay Ellwanger, withdrew from her case and Smithline failed to respond to the court’s request for a decision about new representation.
Ellwanger has also represented “Game of Thrones” actor Esmé Bianco, a Manson accuser who settled her claims out of court last month. Smithline said in her declaration that it was Bianco who suggested Ellwanger as potential representation.
Smithline accused Ellwanger of including “untrue” claims of violence and nonconsensual sexual activity in the 2021 complaint he filed on her behalf in U.S. District Court for Central California.
Ellwanger said he could not get into details about Smithline’s allegations against him, citing ethical obligations of client confidentiality. He denied her characterization of his representation as “categorically and verifiably false.”
Howard King, Manson’s attorney, said Thursday that Smithline’s testimony proves the allegations against his client are untrue.
“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,” King said. “Vulnerable women were manipulated by unscrupulous individuals seeking to build their own brands and pursue their own vendettas.”
Wood has denied the allegations in Manson’s defamation suit, which include a claim that she forged a letter from the FBI to persuade other women to take part in her documentary about abuse, “Phoenix Rising,” which aired on HBO last year.
In an opposition motion, Wood’s attorney accused Manson of filing the defamation suit as retaliation for her decision to go public with her abuse allegations. The motion accuses Manson of trying to silence Wood.
Wood testified to a House Judiciary subcommittee in 2018 that she had been raped twice, first by an abusive partner and then by a man in the storage closet of a bar. She did not name them at the hearing.
In an Instagram post in 2021, she accused Manson of “grooming me when I was a teenager” and said he “horrifically abused me for years.”
Manson has not been charged with any crime connected to Wood’s allegations. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department submitted a case for review to the district attorney’s office in September after a 19-month investigation by the special victim’s unit.
The prosecutor’s office has not given a public update on a decision about whether Manson will face charges.