Marilyn Manson is suing Evan Rachel Wood for fraud

The shock rocker alleges she conspired to ruin his career.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 4: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been digitally retouched) Marilyn Mans...
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Culture

After months of upsetting allegations about his romantic past, Marilyn Manson has decided to cflip the script. The aging shock rocker has sued his ex-fiancé, Evan Rachel Wood, and her partner, Illma Gore, for fraud, defamation, and conspiracy.

Since February 2021, over a dozen women have come forward to accuse Manson, real name Brian Warner, of sexual abuse and battery. He is now embroiled in legal battles with four of his accusers for myriad crimes including rape, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, human trafficking, and unlawful imprisonment. He has successfully had one lawsuit thrown out in September, but his home was searched last November for evidence.

Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood is perhaps the most high profile of Manson’s accusers, and her story is now the center of an HBO Max documentary, Phoenix Rising, to be released later this month. Wood alleges that Manson groomed her as a teen to be psychologically and physically abused during their relationship, which began in 2007, when Manson was 37 and she was 19. They later got engaged, but ultimately split in 2010. Wood also has accused Manson of raping her on the set of his music video for “Heart-Shaped Glasses.”

Manson’s complaint reads in part, “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, a/k/a Illma Gore, to publicly cast Plaintiff Brian Warner, p/k/a Marilyn Manson, as a rapist and abuser—a malicious falsehood that has derailed Warner’s successful music, TV, and film career.” The complaint specifically accuses Wood and Gore of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, and impersonation over the internet.

Manson has intently denied all claims against him since they began, calling the allegations “horrible distortions of reality.” The complaint continues, “With Gore’s help, Wood could be rebranded, from someone who ‘still might best be known for dating Marilyn Manson a decade ago,’ into an outspoken standard bearer for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault — thereby absolving her reputation for having a ‘wild past’ and her embarrassment for having been in a long-term relationship with Marilyn Manson.” Outside of the legal contentions between Manson and Wood, Wood has done important work toward extending the statute of limitations on domestic violence cases from three to five years in the state of California. She, with the help of other survivors, got the Phoenix Act passed in 2019.

It’s a complex situation considering Manson’s performing persona embraces lewd and dark imagery. While he calls his accusers' statements “distortions of reality,” distorting reality has always been part of his own brand — it’s hard not to believe his accusers considering his artistic history. It’s also been strange to Manson appearing with Ye at the latter’s Sunday Service, Donda, and Donda 2 events as some kind of anti-cancel culture stunt. And while his public behavior since the start of the allegations has been bizarre, his lawsuit purports to have screenshots of Gore and Wood collaborating to create false documents so that they would “get picked up by the press and draw attention to the Phoenix Act...and the false allegations against Warner.”

It’s not a good look, but getting justice in situations like these is also nearly impossible. It makes sense that Wood would go to extensive lengths to get somewhere. And yet the status of Me Too is fragile these days; it’s lost a lot of the bravado of 2017 and 2018. If these claims by Manson were proven as true, they would surely rip at the thin fabric of the movement. However, they don’t negate Manson’s other accusers’ claims that have yet to be settled in court.