Ashley Morgan Smithline Recants Sexual Assault Allegations Against Marilyn Manson

Smithline is now claiming she was "manipulated" by Evan Rachel Wood to make false accusations

BY Kaelen BellPublished Feb 24, 2023

Marilyn Manson's legal team has filed a declaration from Ashley Morgan Smithline —  whose sexual assault lawsuit against Manson was dismissed in January after she failed to hire new legal representation — in the defamation court case against Evan Rachel Wood and Illma Gore, who also accused Manson of sexual assault.

As reported by Pitchfork, Smithline recanted her assault allegations against Manson and claimed that she was "manipulated" by Wood and Gore to make false accusations in the new declaration. She also states she didn't actually give her attorney permission to file her lawsuit in the first place. You can read Smithline's entire declaration at the bottom of the page.

Smithline originally accused Marilyn Manson — real name Brian Warner — of abuse, rape and coercion in a February 2022 Instagram statement. Smithline appears in the documentary Phoenix Rising in a group meeting with Wood and other accusers as they discuss Manson's alleged behaviour. Smithline details an alleged instance of assault in the documentary, claiming that Manson carved his initials into her thigh. A May 2021 People feature included an image of what Smithline claimed was the scar from that assault. In the same feature, Smithline said, "I have bonded with the five other main girls who went through this, and we have found such a strength in numbers. And our stories are all fucking identical, it's disgusting." 

In the new declaration, Smithline says she was "very uncomfortable doing this press but felt pressured to do it," referencing the People interview and an interview on The View in June 2021. 

"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," said Manson's attorney Howard King in a statement. "Vulnerable women were manipulated by unscrupulous individuals seeking to build their own brands and pursue their own vendettas. This sworn testimony proves it."

Read Smithline's declaration below, via Pitchfork

I, Ashley Lindsay Morgan Smithline, declares as follows:

1. In November 2010, I had a brief, consensual sexual relationship with Brian Warner, also known as Marilyn Manson, during a trip I took to Los Angeles from Thailand, where I was living.

2. Ten years later, I succumbed to pressure from Evan Rachel Wood and her associates to make accusations of rape and assault against Mr. Warner that were not true.

3. In 2020, I was contacted by either Ashley Walters or Illma Gore to participate in a group meeting of women who, they said, had relationships or experiences with Mr. Warner. (I knew Ms. Walters from my trip to Los Angeles in 2010. She was Mr. Warner's assistant, and she arranged my travel. I also spent time with her during the trip.) Ultimately, I participated in at least one such group call and a meeting that was filmed in October 2020 (which I only later learned was for Phoenix Rising). From this time in 2020 through June 2021, I had many communications with Ms. Wood.

4. During my conversations with Ms. Wood, she described acts allegedly committed by Mr. Warner against Ms. Wood and other supposed victims and asked me whether the same things happened to me. I remember she asked me whether I had been, among other things, whipped, chained, tied up, branded/cut, assaulted while sleeping, beaten, or raped. She said all of these things happened to Ms. Wood and others, and that when Ms. Wood was with Mr. Warner every moment was a moment of survival. 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.

5. While at first I knew Mr. Warner did not do these things to me, I eventually I began to question whether he actually did. 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. I was asked whether I was repressing memories to just get through day-to-day life, and whether it was easier just to not think about what actually happened than accept reality. They also said it was important for people to come forward so that no one else gets hurt.

6. I also recall that in one of the group meetings I attended with Ms. Wood and Ms. Gore, Ms. Gore said they could arrange security for anyone who felt in danger from Mr. Warner. I recall that Ms. Bianco said during this discussion that private investigators had been parked outside of her house and probably were parked outside of mine. I also had separate conversations with Ms. Bianco during this time period in which she told me her relationship with Mr. Warner was similar to that described by Ms. Wood. She insisted that I was repressing memories like she and other supposed victims of Mr. Warner had done.

7. Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and Ms. Bianco also happened to me.

8. In or around January 2021, I attended a call on which Ms. Wood said that on a certain day she would post to her social media naming Mr. Warner as her abuser, and that we all should do the same on or around the same day. I discussed with Ms. Gore making such a statement on my Instagram page accusing Mr. Warner of abuse. Ms. Gore drafted the statement, and I gave her my password to post it. The narrative ultimately posted to my account on or around February 1, 2021 contained untrue statements about Mr. Warner, including that there was violence and non-consensual sexual activity in our brief relationship, and that I had repressed memories of the same. As another example, there was no branding or cutting experienced during the brief relationship and certainly no "Marilyn Manson" initials carved on my body.

9. On June 29, 2021, a complaint was filed in the lawsuit Ashley Lindsay Morgan Smithline v. Brian Warner et al., Case No. 2:21-cv-5289. The complaint was filed by my attorney at the time, Jay Ellwanger. Ms. Bianco told me Mr. Ellwanger was her lawyer and that I should use him. Mr. Ellwanger did not review the contents of the complaint with me before filing it and did not send me a draft of the complaint to approve before filing it. The complaint contained untrue statements about Mr. Warner, including that there was violence and non-consensual sexual activity in our brief relationship, and that I had repressed memories of the same until meeting with Ms. Wood, Ms. Gore, and others in 2020. Leading up to the filing of the complaint, I felt pressured by Mr. Ellwanger to go on a press tour, which included an interview on
The View and an interview and photoshoot with People magazine. I was very uncomfortable doing this press but felt pressured to do it.

10. After the lawsuit was filed on my behalf, I fired Mr. Ellwanger, and the case was dismissed. I never received any money from Mr. Warner and am not seeking any money from him. I have no intention of refiling any lawsuit against Mr. Warner.

11. I never intended to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Warner and have no intention now of ever pursuing criminal charges, as Mr. Warner did not ever assault or abuse me.

12. Looking back, I feel I was manipulated by Ms. Wood, Ms. Gore, Ms. Bianco, and Mr. Ellwanger to spread publicly false accusations of abuse against Mr. Warner.

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.

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