Judge Dismisses Marilyn Manson's Defamation Claims Against Evan Rachel Wood

A judge threw out multiple claims from the lawsuit, including that Wood "recruited" other women to accuse the musician of abuse

Photo: Evan Rachel Wood by Gage Skidmore (left), Marilyn Manson by Andreas Lawen (right)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished May 10, 2023

Multiple claims in Marilyn Manson's defamation lawsuit against Evan Rachel Wood have been thrown out in a tentative court ruling.

Yesterday (May 9), Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Beaude gutted 10 of the musician born Brian Warner's objections to the actor's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) motion to dismiss his case against her. California's anti-SLAPP legislature protects individuals exercising their First Amendment rights — all too often survivors of domestic abuse — by helping them dismiss meritless countersuits.
In his 2022 lawsuit, Warner alleged that Wood and co-defendant, partner and collaborator Illma Gore "recruited, coordinated and pressured" other women to make false statements accusing him of sexual assault and abuse. According to the filing, Wood and Gore allegedly "provided checklists and scripts to prospective accusers, listing the specific alleged acts of abuse that they should claim against Warner." He further alleged that the actor forged an FBI letter — which the judge pointed to as having surfaced in a California custody proceeding; it was never published by Wood.

"We are very pleased with the Court's ruling, which affirms and protects Evan's exercise of her fundamental First Amendment rights," Wood's attorney Michael Kump said in a statement. "As the Court correctly found, Plaintiff failed to show that his claims against her have even minimal merit."

A tentative trial date has been set for May 1, 2024. It will likely be delayed because Warner, as per his attorney, plans to appeal.

Wood publicly named Warner as her abuser for the first time in 2021. Since then, several other women have come forward with stories of (and lawsuits pertaining to) their own alleged sexual, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of the musician. Most recently, model Ashley Morgan Smithline — who appeared in Wood's Phoenix Rising film documenting the wake of her disclosure — recanted her allegations and claimed that Wood "manipulated" her into making them. The actor proceeded to submit evidence denying Smithline's claims.

"I can't obviously speak about any of the specific allegations of the lawsuit, but I'm not scared," Wood said in response to Warner's defamation suit last year. "I am sad, because this is how it works. This is what pretty much every survivor that tries to expose someone in a position of power goes through, and this is part of the retaliation that keeps survivors quiet. This is why people don't want to come forward. This was expected."

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