Evan Rachel Wood is hitting back against claims that she “manipulated” one of Marilyn Manson’s many accusers into making false accusations.
In screenshots and voicemails submitted by Evan, model Ashley Morgan Smithline reached out to her first with allegations of sexual assault, and was then pressured by Manson’s fans and legal team to recant.
Attorneys for Wood, 35, filed her declaration in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday denying Smithline’s allegations — made in a sworn statement filed last week by Manson’s lawyers — that she and others “repeatedly gaslit” Smithline into thinking she’d been sexually abused by the metal rocker, 54.
“I never pressured or manipulated Ashley Morgan Smithline to make any accusations against [Manson], and I certainly never pressured or manipulated her to make accusations that were not true,” wrote Wood, who herself has accused Manson of sexual assault. “It was Ms. Smithline who first contacted me in March 2019.”
In her declaration, the Westworld actress said her first encounter with Smithline, 38, came in March 2019, when the model commented on an Instagram post Wood had shared about being a survivor of domestic violence.
Though Wood had yet to name Manson as her alleged abuser, Smithline’s comments — of which Wood shared screenshots — indicated Smithline knew it was Manson, as she referenced information about Wood’s “private experiences with [Manson] that was not publicly available at that time.”
The actress said she only met Smithline once in person, at a meeting of alleged survivors in October 2020 that was filmed for the documentary Phoenix Rising. Wood said she never spoke on the phone to Smithline before the meeting, during which Smithline described the abuse Manson had allegedly inflicted upon her during their brief relationship.
Smithline has not responded to requests for comment from PEOPLE. In a statement to Rolling Stone, Smithline responded to Wood’s declaration, saying: “Evan’s full of s—. That’s my comment. She’s saying anything she can to discredit me.”
Wood’s declaration also included screenshots of multiple Instagram private messages allegedly shared between Wood and Smithline, including one in which Smithline tells the star: “I can’t breathe. I have no reason to make this up!” after her allegations were published in a May 2021 People cover story and covered on The View.
Smithline also accused the star of abuse in a June 2021 civil complaint that was dismissed in January 2023 because she did not have a lawyer. Manson has denied all allegations against him, which include claims of abuse from 11 women.
Other screenshots indicate that Smithline appeared to have growing concerns over harassment from Manson supporters, as she allegedly wrote to Wood in May 2021: “(His fans) keep going. They could watch him [plead] guilty while beating and raping a 12 year old and say, ‘he’s innocent. Where is the proof.’ it takes a special kind of person to threaten rape and abuse victims with rape and abuse.”
“Just know that YOU set me free. By listening. I love you,” Smithline allegedly wrote to Wood in March 2022
Wood’s filing also includes voicemails left by Smithline for a friend in June 2022 that appear to show the model discussing a call she said she’d received from Manson’s lawyer Howard King, who eventually submitted to the court the sworn statement in which she recanted her allegations.
“He called… I’ll play you the message, it says, ‘Hi Ashley, this is Howard King… I’d like to speak with you just one on one directly, no lawyers or something,’ he said, ‘you know, just talk like people,'” Smithline allegedly says in the voicemail. “And the only reason why he would be calling me at all a week ago and leaving a message is that he thinks I’m the weak link and he might want to settle with me to turn on the other girls and say that it was all like, a ruse.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, King denied Wood’s allegations, saying: “I never discussed Ashley Smithline’s claims against Brian Warner until after she had reached out to me and terminated her counsel. Moreover, when Ms. Smithline recently spoke with me for almost two hours, we taped the conversation in full and that recording proves that every single thing in her declaration was taken from her words, not mine.”
Manson filed a defamation suit against Wood and Illma Gore in March 2022, alleging that the pair conspired to coerce other women into making allegations against him.
In the documents filed Monday, Wood slammed Manson’s suit, writing it was filed “without a shred of evidence to substantiate his meritless claim.” It also made note that Manson had never tried to make Smithline sit for a deposition in order to oppose the anti-SLAPP motions filed by Wood in April 2022.
“[Manson] understood that if [Wood and Gore] had the opportunity to question Smithline, the actual truth would come out: [Wood and Gore] never pressured or manipulated Smithline,” the documents say. “It was Smithline who reached out to Wood about the abuse that she had suffered more than a year before Smithline now claims to have been manipulated into believing she was abused…. Accordingly, rather than request Smithline’s deposition, [Manson] pursued a declaration with a (false) narrative that [Manson’s] counsel could draft, edit, and control.”
The documents also fight Smithline’s timeline of events, and argue that she was mainly pressured by Manson “fans and attorneys to recant” her allegations, not by Wood and Gore.
“The real pressure Smithline faced was not to make allegations against [Manson]—it was to retract them,” the documents say. “Smithline’s declaration is therefore wholly unreliable.”
Smithline’s sworn statement was filed on Feb. 23, and in it, she said that over conversations with Wood, she began to question whether Manson actually had abused her, and says Wood and others suggested she “may just be misremembering” and “repressing” her memories of their time together after Smithline told them Manson had not abused her.
A rep for Wood denied that was the case in a statement to PEOPLE at the time.
“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.”
Whatever’s truly going on here, Marilyn Manson is guilty.