Marilyn Manson accuser withdraws shocking abuse claims – Variety

In May 2021, Ashley Morgan Smithline appeared on the cover of People magazine alongside the headline, “I Survived a Monster.”

The story announced that Smithline, who has worked as a model and actor, was “ready to tell her truth” about the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of Marilyn Manson. She alleged, among other things, that Manson tied and raped her while she slept, drank her blood, and carved his initials into her thigh.

“I’ve been brainwashed and I feel disgusting,” she said with a photo showing the scar.

But in a three-page statement filed with the court on Thursday, Smithline recanted her allegations.

She said the allegations, first posted to her Instagram account in February 2021, “contain untrue statements” about Manson, “including that there was violence and non-consensual sexual activity in our brief relationship.”

She also stated that there was “no branding or cutting” during the relationship, “and certainly no ‘Marilyn Manson’ initials engraved on my body.”

Smithline also claimed she was pressured to make the false allegations by Evan Rachel Wood, Manson’s ex-girlfriend, who publicly accused him of abusing her during their four-year relationship.

She alleged that she had been manipulated by Wood and others, including Wood’s girlfriend Illma Gore, into participating in a publicity campaign against Manson. In addition to the People cover shoot, Smithline appeared on “The View” and filed a federal lawsuit accusing Manson of violent sexual assault.

The lawsuit was dismissed in January after her attorney, Jay Ellwanger, withdrew from the case over a rift in the attorney-client relationship.

Smithline now claims she was convinced to make the false allegations after hearing the accounts of Wood and Esme Bianco, another of Manson’s accusers.

She said that when she first spoke to Wood in 2020, she denied being abused. But she claims Wood told her she must have “repressed” her memories. In fact, she claims she has been brainwashed.

“Eventually I came to believe that what I was repeatedly told about Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Bianco happened to me,” she said.

Wood’s spokesperson denied Smithline’s claims.

“Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley,” the spokesperson said. “It was Ashley who first contacted Evan about the abuse she had endured. It’s unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received after filing her federal lawsuit seem to have pressured her to change her testimony.

Smithline also claimed that Ellwanger filed the lawsuit without discussing it with her, and that he was among those who pressured her to make the false allegations. In an email to VarietyEllwanger denied the allegations.

“My response is limited by ethical obligations regarding client confidentiality, even to a former client,” Ellwanger wrote. “But what I can say is that the specific allegations in the statement regarding my representation of Ms. Smithline are categorically and verifiably false.”

Manson is now suing Wood and Gore for defamation, alleging they maliciously derailed his career with false allegations of abuse. Manson also accuses them of recruiting other women to make false accusations against him.

Lawyers for Wood and Gore filed a motion to dismiss the claims under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, arguing that the lawsuit is an attempt to curb free speech on a matter of public interest. Their lawyers have also argued that there is no evidence that Wood or Gore pressured anyone to make false accusations.

Howard King, Manson’s attorney, filed Smithline’s statement in defense of the anti-SLAPP motion. King claims the statement constitutes new evidence that Wood and Gore did indeed pressure women to fabricate allegations.

The motion will be heard on April 11.

People added an editor’s note to the May 2021 cover story, noting that Smithline retracted her claims.

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