A woman who accused Marilyn Manson of sexual assault has officially retracted her claims, saying fellow accuser Evan Rachel Wood “manipulated” her into implicating the artist.
Model Ashley Morgan Smithline first accused Manson — born Brian Warner — of assault in a People cover story, which detailed numerous instances of graphic abuse throughout the couple’s two-year relationship. The report came after Wood, another ex of Manson’s, came forward with her own harrowing experience with the singer, prompting over 10 more women to do the same.
Now, however, Smithline — via a statement filed by Manson’s lawyers — says the abuse never happened, and that she “succumbed to pressure from Evan Rachel Wood and her associates to make accusations of rape and assault against Mr. Warner that were not true.”
In the statement, Smithline recalls meeting with Wood and other Manson accusers — including actress Esme Bianco and Manson’s former assistant, Ashley Walters — who asked her if she experienced the same abuse as they did. According to the model, she told the women that she did not share their experiences, but was told that the same events could have happened to her without her memory.
“While at first I knew Mr. Warner did not do these things to me, I eventually I began to question whether he actually did,” Smithline said. “On numerous occasions, I was told by Ms. Wood, Esme Bianco and others that these things happened to Ms. Wood and Ms. Bianco; asked whether the same things happened to me; and told that I may just be misremembering what happened, repressing my memories of what happened, or that my memories had not yet surfaced — which they said happened to people against whom these acts were perpetrated.” Read her full statement here.
A representative for Wood denied Smithline’s remarks in a statement to Billboard, saying, “Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley. It was Ashley who first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered. It’s unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received after filing her federal lawsuit appear to have pressured her to change her testimony.”
On Monday, February 27th, Wood filed legal papers further denying that she manipulated Smithline. In the paperwork, obtained by Rolling Stone, she included Instagram screenshots, along with texts, DMs, and voicemail transcriptions supporting her stance.
Smithline’s retraction could aid Manson’s current defamation lawsuit against Wood, which claims that Wood and another woman, Illma Gore, had “secretly recruited, coordinated, and pressured prospective accusers to emerge simultaneously” with false accusations against him. The model claims that her lawyer, Jay Ellwanger — who also served as Bianco’s counsel — filed a legal complaint against Manson without reviewing it with her, and that the complaint contains untrue statements about the artist. Ellwanger has said Smithline’s claims are “categorically and verifiably false.”
Smithline’s lawsuit against Manson was dismissed earlier last year after Ellwanger withdrew his representation for Smithline and she failed to hire a new lawyer within the court-appointed window. In a statement to Consequence, a representative for Manson said Instagram messages between Smithline and Ellwanger revealed that Smithline fired Ellwanger in April 2022, despite his continued communication with Manson’s counsel afterwards.
Shortly before Smithline recanted her accusation against Manson, the embattled artist reached a settlement with Bianco, who accused him of rape, sexual battery, and human trafficking in a 2021 lawsuit.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to note Evan Rachel Wood’s legal filing on February 27th.