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Marilyn Manson accuser’s sudden 180 won’t get into court in Evan Rachel Wood case, judge rules

Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson at a party celebrating Rolling Stone Magazine’s 1000th issue held on May 4, 2006 in New York City. (Walter Weissman/STAR MAX/IPx 2006 via AP)

Marilyn Manson can’t use the sudden recantation of one of his accusers against ex-girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood, a judge ruled in California.

The ruling fell shortly after Wood filed an affidavit strongly denying having “manipulated” Smithline into joining the chorus of sexual abuse allegations against the shock rocker, backing up those denials with a batch of Instagram messages.

“I never pressured or manipulated Ashley Morgan Smithline to make any accusations against Plaintiff Brian Warner, and I certainly never pressured or manipulated her to make accusations that were not true. It was Ms. Smithline who first contacted me in March 2019,” Wood wrote in a 3-page declaration.

Wood says that this outreach occurred on March 11, 2019, after she came out as a survivor of sexual abuse but did not specifically name Manson.

At the time, Smithline commented that “when he had me captive in the stupid ballet studio, i cringed hearing him brag about replaying that scene from rules of attraction to you… i thought no one would ever talk about this,” according to the declaration.

Before Smithline’s message, Wood said: “I had not met her, I had not communicated with her, and I did not know who she was.”

“But in her comments, Ms. Smithline referenced information about my private experiences with Mr. Warner that was not publicly available at that time,” the declaration says. “Specifically, Mr. Warner once abused me while he made me watch a particular scene from the movie Rules of Attraction. Mr. Warner and I were the only two people in the room when that abuse occurred.”

Evan Rachel Wood Instagram

Evan Rachel Wood shared this Instagram exchange that she says took place between her and Ashley Smithline. (Photo: Court doc)

Months later on May 5, 2021, Smithline allegedly attested to the truth of her claims in another Instagram exchange.

“i can’t breathe,” Smithline is seen writing in the screenshot. “i have no reason to make this up!”

“Dont let anybody get to you,” Wood is seen replying. “Just sit in your truth.”

Wood says that she and Smithline only met in person more than a year and a half later at an Oct. 21, 2020, “meeting of survivors” for the HBO documentary “Phoenix Rising.”

“Prior to that meeting, I had never spoken to Ms. Smithline on the phone,” Wood’s declaration says. “During the October 2020 meeting, Ms. Smithline described abuse that she claimed Mr. Warner inflicted upon her. Ms. Smithline has always told me that she was abused by Mr. Warner.”

Manson had sued Wood and artist Ilma Gore last year in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that the women joined in a conspiracy to derail his career by falsely painting him as a rapist and an abuser. Wood fired back with a motion seeking to dismiss his case under anti-SLAPP law, a statute designed to punish those who file lawsuits designed to limit free speech.

Smithline’s declaration had been designed to support Manson’s claims that his lawsuit has substance, but he offered the document after the deadline to fully brief that matter.

A source close to Manson’s legal team emphasized that the ruling was “procedural and based on the timing of the motion, not its merits.”

“There was no finding that the Smithline declaration was untrue or unreliable,” the source said.

Wood’s legal team, however, is attacking the reliability of the document with another sworn declaration by Smithline’s friend Karl Neilson, who claims to have received a voicemail last June explaining the sudden about-face.

“Don’t repeat this to anyone,” Smithline told Neilson, according to the filing. “I swear to God, don’t say this to anyone, and I’m not gonna to say it like over anything but speaking, but I did get a private message on my cellular telephone from Marilyn Manson’s lawyer saying, ‘I was wondering if we could just talk.'”

“It was about a week ago,” the voicemail continues. “I have not called back, obviously. Obviously, it’s very clear that a lawyer legally shouldn’t and can’t call me without calling my lawyer directly. He called … I’ll play you the message. It says, ‘Howard’ … It says, ‘Hi Ashley, this is Howard King,’ or Harold King, or whatever his name is. ‘I’d like to speak with you just one-on-one, directly, no…no lawyers or something,’ he said, ‘you know, just talk like people.’ Urn, and the only reason why he would be calling me at all, a week ago, and leaving a message is that he thinks I’m the weak link, and he might want to settle with me to turn on the other girls, and say that it was all, like, a ruse.”

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Neilson filed the audio of the voicemail with the court. Wood did the same with the Instagram messages, which she included as exhibits.

Read Evan Rachel Wood’s declaration here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."