LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California judge on Tuesday threw out key sections of Marilyn Manson’s lawsuit against his former fiancee, “Westworld” actor Evan Rachel Wood. The suit claimed that she fabricated public allegations that he sexually and physically abused her during their relationship and encouraged other women to do the same.
Manson’s suit, filed last year, alleges that Wood and another woman named as a defendant, Illma Gore, defamed Manson, intentionally caused him emotional distress, and derailed his career in music, TV, and film. It says they used false pretenses, including a phony letter from the FBI, to convince other women to come forward with sexual abuse allegations and coached them on what to say about Manson, whose legal name is Brian Warner.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa A. Beaudet dismissed the part of the suit dealing with the disputed FBI letter, which Wood denies forging. Beaudet also tossed out a section that alleges Wood and Gore used a checklist found on an iPad for other women to use to make abuse claims about Manson.
The judge’s ruling relied on California law meant to protect the free speech of defendants from being squelched by lawsuits. Baudet did not rule on the merits of the FBI letter, but found that the evidence that the defendants used it to recruit other women and harm Manson was hypothetical and thin. Evidence was also lacking that Wood and Gore created the checklist, Beaudet found. She said the probability of Manson prevailing on either part was low.
“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling, which affirms and protects Evan’s exercise of her fundamental First Amendment rights,” Wood’s attorney Michael Kump said in a statement. “As the Court correctly found, Plaintiff failed to show that his claims against her have even minimal merit.”
Manson’s attorney Howard King said he plans an immediate appeal. “The ruling is disappointing but not unexpected,” King said in an email. “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 judge overruled Wood’s motion to dismiss other parts of the lawsuit alleging the defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Manson. The remaining sections include allegations the women hacked Manson’s email, phone and social media accounts, created a phony email to manufacture evidence that he was emailing illegal pornography, and “swatted” him, using a prank call to send authorities to his home.
Several women have sued Manson in recent years with allegations of sexual and other abuse. Most have been dismissed or settled, including a suit filed by “Game of Thrones” actor Esme Bianco. And police and prosecutors have been conducting a criminal investigation of Manson for more than two years. In September, prosecutors said they needed more evidence from detectives before deciding whether to charge him. The women involved have not been identified.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly.
In 2017, when the #MeToo movement gained momentum, Wood said she had been raped and abused, and she gave testimony to a Congressional committee in 2018, both without naming anyone. Then in an Instagram post in February of 2020, Wood named Manson, saying he “horrifically abused me for years.” The two revealed they were a couple in 2007, and were briefly engaged in 2010 before breaking up. An HBO documentary on the allegations premiered in March.
Manson’s lawsuit says Wood had only glowing things to say about Manson during their relationship, and she said nothing of his abusing her for 10 years until she met Gore, an artist whom the lawsuit describes as Wood’s on-again, off-again romantic partner.