Many of Marilyn Manson’s defamation claims against Evan Rachel Wood have been struck down in the latest legal development around the rock musician. A California judge made a tentative ruling on May 9, dismissing claims including that Wood, the most prominent victim to accuse Manson of abuse, “recruited, coordinated, and pressured” other women to make accusations. Judge Teresa Beaudet made the ruling under the state’s anti-SLAPP statute, which protects individuals — often domestic violence victims — from “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” like defamation claims over their accusations. Wood’s attorney, Michael Kump, celebrated the ruling, telling Pitchfork in a statement that it “affirms and protects Evan’s exercise of her fundamental First Amendment rights.” Meanwhile, an attorney for Manson, born Brian Warner, said he plans to appeal. “The ruling is disappointing but not unexpected,” Howard E. King told Pitchfork.
An appeal would further draw out this legal battle, with Manson’s remaining claims currently set to go to trial on May 1, 2024. Manson’s lawyer said the appeal would specifically focus on evidence that Beaudet previously threw out, including testimony from Ashley Morgan Smithline, a former Manson accuser who later recanted her claims and said Wood and her Phoenix Rising collaborator Illma Gore pressured her. The judge ruled that Gore’s messages to women about the documentary — in which Gore said there was “no pressure to be involved in any way” — were “not ‘so extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.’”