Ashley Morgan Smithline recants accusations of abuse against Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson headshot
(Image credit: Toni Anne Barson)

Last month a judge in Los Angeles dismissed one of the sexual assault lawsuits filed against Marilyn Manson after the plaintiff, Ashley Morgan Smithline, failed to appoint new legal representation following her original lawyer's decision to withdraw from the case.

Now Smithline has recanted her original allegations, and claims that actress Evan Rachel Wood – who made similar statements about Manson in the HBO documentary Phoenix Rising – “manipulated” her into speaking out against the singer.

The change comes in a declaration filed by Manson's lawyers as part of their ongoing suit against Wood, who they're suing for defamation and emotional distress.

“I remember [Wood] asked me whether I had been, among other things, whipped, chained, tied up, branded/cut, assaulted while sleeping, beaten, or raped,” Smithline claims. “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. Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and Ms. [Esme] Bianco also happened to me.” 

Bianco sued Marilyn Manson for rape, sexual assault and trafficking in May 2021, but the case was settled out of court last month. In a brief statement given to Rolling Stone, Bianco's lawyer, Jay Ellwanger, said, "Ms. Bianco has agreed to resolve her claims against Brian Warner and Marilyn Manson Records, Inc. in order to move on with her life and career."

Multiple women have accused Manson of abuse, including his former assistant Ashley Walters, who claimed that he subjected her to “personal and professional sexual exploitation, manipulation and psychological abuse.” Walters own lawsuit against Manson was dismissed by a judge last year for being beyond the statute of limitations. Walters is appealing the order. 

Manson faces one further lawsuit, filed by an ex-girlfriend known in legal documents as "Jane Doe."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.