A California judge just gutted much of rock musician Marilyn Manson’s defamation suit against actor Evan Rachel Wood, who is one of more than a dozen women who’ve come forward in recent years accusing him of abuse.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Beaudet determined Tuesday that Manson’s biggest claims against Wood lacked merit and that his lawsuit accusing her of defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress” must proceed without them.
Among the claims stricken from Manson’s complaint are his allegations that his ex-girlfriend “recruited, coordinated, and pressured” women to accuse him of abuse, provided them “checklists and scripts” to help develop their accusations and forged and distributed an FBI letter about a criminal investigation into Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner.
Beaudet also shot down Manson’s claims that Wood defamed him when she encouraged the artist Ashley “Illma” Gore, with whom she has been in a relationship since 2019, to tell potential accusers Manson filmed the assault of a minor in a short film he made in 1996 called “Groupie.” Manson also claimed in his complaint that Wood should have told Gore that the actor portraying the minor in the film was an adult.
In her decision, Beaudet largely cited free speech protections and California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which aims to prevent people from using lawsuits to intimidate or silence critics.
Wood’s attorney, Michael Kump, released a statement praising the judge’s decision.
“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling, which affirms and protects Evan’s exercise of her fundamental First Amendment rights,” he said.
Manson’s lawyer, Howard King, slammed the court for not factoring in statements from Ashley Smithline, a onetime plaintiff against Manson who has since said Wood “manipulated” her into accusing the musician of abuse.
“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,” King said, adding that he will be filing an immediate appeal of Beaudet’s decision.
This is Manson’s second successive loss in this case. In February, Beaudet rejected his request to add Smithline’s declaration to his lawsuit. Wood maintains that she never pressured Smithline and that she approached her in March 2019 about Manson’s behavior.
Wood first went public with her accusations against Manson in 2021, saying he began grooming her as a teenager and “horrifically abused” her during their relationship in the mid-to-late 2000s. Wood says Manson, who’s nearly 20 years her senior, locked her in rooms as punishment, kept her away from friends and “essentially raped” her while filming a scene for one of his music videos in 2007.
More than a dozen other women have also come forward with abuse allegations against Manson, who was subsequently dropped by his record label and talent agency. He denies all the accusations.
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