A shocking new twist has emerged in the legal battle between Marilyn Manson and his accusers. Ashley Morgan Smithline’s sexual assault lawsuit against Marilyn Manson, aka Brian Warner, was dismissed in January 2023 due to her failure to secure proper representation following an attorney change. Smithline had accused Manson of sexual assault, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unlawful imprisonment, and violations of both the Bane Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. However, Smithline has now recanted her allegations against Manson, claiming she was manipulated into coming forward by actress Evan Rachel Wood, Manson’s ex-fiance, and her associates. In a bombshell court filing, Smithline alleges that she succumbed to pressure from Wood and others to make false accusations against Manson. 

Smithline’s statement, shared via Billboard.com, reveals she had a brief consensual sexual relationship with Manson but was pressured by Wood and others to make false accusations of rape and assault against him. Smithline participated in at least one group call and a meeting in 2020, where she was encouraged to join a group of women who had relationships or experiences with Manson. Smithline eventually started to believe that what she was repeatedly told happened to Wood and others also happened to her. Smithline’s complaint against Manson was filed by her attorney, Jay Ellwanger, in June 2021, but now she has recanted her allegations.


Smithline’s statement:

“In November 2020, 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. 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. In 2020, I was contacted by either Ashley Walters or Ilma 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.

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 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.

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 me 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.

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 that 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 and other supposed victims of Mr. Warner had done.

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

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. 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. Executed on this 19th day of February 2023 at Los Angeles County, CA”


A rep for Wood denied these claims in the following response:

“Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley. It was Ashley who first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered,” the statement read. “It’s unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received after filing her federal lawsuit appear to have pressured her to change her testimony.”


Manson’s lawyers wasted no time releasing Smithline’s statement as part of their ongoing case against Wood, who Manson claims orchestrated an “organized attack” of false rape accusations against him. This latest development adds another layer of complexity to an already explosive legal battle. The revelation that one of Manson’s accusers has now recanted her allegations raises questions about credibility. As this high-profile, confusing case continues to unfold, the truth behind the allegations becomes increasingly difficult to discern. This development highlights the complexity of sexual assault cases and the importance of due process. As this may develop a controversial split outcry, it’s essential to continue supporting survivors and be mindful of possible false allegations. One thing is certain; this saga is most likely far from over.