Judge Dismisses Much of Marilyn Manson’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Evan Rachel Wood
The legal aftermath of actress Evan Rachel Wood's abuse allegations against Marilyn Manson continues, with Manson's defamation suit against Wood currently being heard by the court. Per Deadline, a California judge dismissed a good portion of Manson's lawsuit against Wood in a tentative order made final Tuesday (May 9).
Manson, aka Brian Warner, initially filed the defamation lawsuit against Wood and Ashley "Illma" Gore on March 2, 2022. "This action arises from the wrongful and illegal acts done in furtherance of a conspiracy by Defendant Evan Rachel Wood and her on-again, off-again romantic partner, Defendant Ashley Gore, [also known as] Illma Gore, to publicly cast Plaintiff Brian Warner, [publicly known as] Marilyn Manson, as a rapist and abuser — a malicious falsehood that has derailed Warner's successful music, TV and film career," the initial lawsuit began.
Manson had also noted in the suit that Wood had never made claims against him for a full decade after their relationship ended until she got involved with Gore. The lawsuit claimed Gore was "a grifter who understood that an organized attack on Warner — spearheaded by Wood's own fabricated revelation of rape and abuse — could benefit them both."
In her order, Judge Teresa A. Beaudet emphasized California's anti-SLAPP statute and the ability to exercise free speech. She also dismissed a number of claims within the suit, allowing Manson to continue to pursue legal action though not on some of the major points of the suit. Among the items dismissed were claims that Wood had filed a fictitious FBI letter and that there had been a prepared checklist created for alleged Manson victims from which they could make claims about.
“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling, which affirms and protects Evan’s exercise of her fundamental First Amendment rights,” Wood’s lead attorney Michael Kump told Deadline after the order was finalized. “As the Court correctly found, Plaintiff failed to show that his claims against her have even minimal merit.”
As for Manson's team, lawyer Howard King commented, “The ruling is disappointing but not unexpected. The Court telegraphed this outcome when it refused to consider the bombshell sworn declaration of former plaintiff Ashley Smithline, which detailed how women were systematically pressured by Evan Rachel Wood and Illma Gore to make false claims about Brian Warner."
“The failure to admit this critical evidence, along with the Court’s decision to not consider Ms. Gore’s iPad, the contents of which demonstrated how she and Ms. Wood crafted a forged FBI letter, will be the subject of an immediate appeal to the California Court of Appeal," he added.
How Manson's Legal Woes Started
Manson and Wood started their romantic involvement in 2007, got engaged in 2010, but split less than a year later. In February 2018, Wood joined other activists in testifying before Congress during a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations in Washington.
To help implement the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights Act in all U.S. states, Wood recounted horrific experiences of sexual assault and torture she said she had suffered from a "man that claimed to love" her, as well from another attacker. She did not identify the alleged abusers.
Though she did not name her abuser at the time, rumors began to circulate that it was Manson she was referring to in her testimony, something that she eventually confirmed in February 2021. Wood's accusations against Manson were then followed by four other women levying accusations against Manson. Shortly after Wood's accusations and those of the other women, Manson lost TV roles and was dropped by his record label and talent agent.
At the time, Manson issued a statement that read, "Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. Regardless of how — and why — others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth."
In recent months, many of those taking legal action against Manson have wrapped up their cases. In January, a California judge dismissed a lawsuit initially filed by Ashley Morgan Smithline after she failed to hire a new attorney to proceed with her case against the musician within the court-allotted window of time. Smithline would later recant her allegations against Manson, stating, "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. I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and [others] also happened to me."
A Wood spokesperson countered, "Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley," they responded, claiming Smithline "first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered. It's unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received … appear to have pressured her to change her testimony."
Manson also settled with Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco, coming to an out of court settlement in late January. A prior suit filed by former Marilyn Manson assistant Ashley Walters was dismissed in May 2022 after the statute of limitations ran out.
For a closer look at how this case has played, check out the timeline below.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, resources are available for help. Visit the RAINN website (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) or dial 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673).