Last week Ashley Morgan Smithline, one of many women accusing Marilyn Manson of gross sexual misconduct, officially recanted her allegations. Smithline said Evan Rachel Wood (pictured), who has also levied abuse claims at Manson and chronicled her history with Manson in the HBO docuseries Phoenix Rising, manipulated her into publicly accusing Manson (real name Brian Warner). Now Wood has provided evidence pushing back against Smithline’s claim, and a judge has ruled that Smithline’s written declaration — which Manson’s team wanted to use in his defamation lawsuit against Wood — will not be used as evidence in a hearing next week.
As Rolling Stone reports, a new court filing from Wood includes screenshots of Instagram comments from Smithline dating back to 2019, along with reported text messages, DMs, and voicemails from Smithline from the last three years. Per Wood’s team, the evidence proves Smithline was lying when she claimed Wood pressured her into accusing Manson. An Instagram comment from 2019 finds Smithline commiserating with Wood over their similar experiences with Manson and writing, “I thought no one would ever talk about this.” In another exchange from 2021, after she went public with her allegations and began facing threats from Manson supporters, Smithline wrote, “I can’t breathe. I have no reason to make this up.” Wood replied, “Don’t let anybody get to you. Just sit in your truth.”
The filing also includes voicemails from Smithline to a friend in June 2022 in which she reports being contacted by Manson’s attorney Howard King. “Don’t repeat this to anyone. I swear to God, don’t say this to anyone … 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,'” Smithline said in the voicemail. “The only reason he’d be calling me… 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 a ruse.”
In response to Wood’s filing, Smithline told Rolling Stone, “Evan’s full of shit. That’s my comment… She’s saying anything she can to discredit me.” King, Manson’s lawyer, offered this statement to Rolling Stone: “It is unsurprising that Evan Rachel Wood is desperately fighting to keep Ashley Smithline’s testimony out of court – because she knows the truth will expose her plot to manipulate the women who trusted her in order to destroy Brian Warner. Brian Warner never abused anyone. Ashley Smithline has told the truth. It’s sadly predictable that Evan Rachel Wood – someone who has already filed a forged FBI letter under oath in other court proceedings — remains committed to not doing the same.”
These events are unfolding in the lead-up to a crucial court hearing next week. Manson is suing Wood for defamation, claiming she orchestrated an “organized attack” of false rape allegations. At the hearing, Wood is seeking to dismiss Manson’s lawsuit on the basis of California’s so-called anti-SLAPP statute, which makes it easier to dismiss cases that threaten free speech. Rolling Stone reporter Tomás Mier adds via Twitter that a judge in the case has denied the ex parte application from Manson’s lawyers to include Smithline’s retraction, meaning her written declaration with not be included as evidence at the anti-SLAPP hearing. “There really is no explanation as to why this [declaration] is bubbling up at this time,” the judge explained in court.
Numerous women have publicly accused Manson of sexual misconduct in recent years, including a recent lawsuit for sexual assault of a minor dating back to the 1990s. He settled out of court with another accuser, actress Esmé Bianco, in January.
If you or someone you know is undergoing sexual abuse, please visit rainn.org or contact the National Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-656-4673.