Since then, Evan Rachel Wood has accused her ex-fiancé Marilyn Manson of abusing her psychologically, emotionally, and sexually, and she recently released a documentary called Phoenix Rising in which she details her experiences.
The #MeToo Movement and Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Before diving into Wood’s allegations, I want to highlight the tension and implications that have arisen as a result of the #MeToo Movement culturally clashing with the established legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”
I can’t definitively say whether Marilyn Manson is guilty of abuse or if Evan Rachel Wood is guilty of constructing a hoax because I don’t have access to all of the relevant information that would be necessary to make that determination. It’s important, however, that we don’t take allegations as gospel truth.
There’s a quote by William Blackstone which became the basis of the Anglo-Saxon legal system: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” In other words, it’s the unfortunate reality that we live in a world where we can’t always determine with 100% certainty that a crime occurred. Cases such as sexual assault and domestic violence can often devolve into he said/she said, especially the longer it takes to report the crime. While I sympathize with every survivor who is struggling to get justice, we can’t, as the toxic #MeToo and modern feminist movements of today demand, condemn a man merely based on the word of an accuser alone without first examining the evidence.
The longer you wait to report a crime, the smaller the chance you have of seeing justice.
Too often we’re expected to believe the notion that women never lie about sexual assault or domestic violence (right, Amber Heard?). We’re asked to believe all women, think about how hard it is for survivors to come forward, and how our response will make victims feel. The falsely accused are always forgotten as if they were an afterthought. In Hollywood, even when you’re found legally innocent, you’re not exempt from the condemnation or blacklisting that occurs in the court of public opinion. This is tantamount to being found guilty, as there is no way forward. I acknowledge the seriousness of these claims and ask that you examine them critically, without bias, for the sake of all real survivors of abuse and character assassination.
Given all of this, my examination of the mess in which Wood and Manson are currently entangled will merely present the facts as we know them, without picking sides or claiming guilt or innocence.
A Comprehensive Timeline of Evan Rachel Wood Naming Her “Abuser”
In 2016, Evan Rachel Wood claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse for the first time, in a letter she penned for Rolling Stone. While she didn’t give names, she claimed that she had been raped twice – once by a significant other while they were together and on a separate occasion by the owner of a bar.
In 2017, Wood spoke in a YouTube video about why she can’t name her abusers, stating that she was up against some “very powerful, very rich, very entitled, very narcissistic white men” and that it would be a very draining process that she’s not ready to begin. She then calls for boycotting alleged abusers, saying, "In the industry, women all over the world, tell people. Tell people. Tell your colleagues, tell your friends, tell everybody their names. And then it's up to us to not work with these people if you know.”
The following year, in 2018, Wood testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee about sexual and domestic abuse to support the "Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act.” During this testimony, she claims that she suffered from toxic mental, physical, and sexual abuse which started slow but escalated over time. This alleged abuse included threats against her life, severe gaslighting and brainwashing, being raped while unconscious, tied up, and beaten. During this testimony, she claims that seven years following being raped by two different men, she was diagnosed with long-term PTSD. In addition, she claimed she suffered from depression, addiction, agoraphobia, night terrors, self-harm, and two suicide attempts which led to her hospitalization in a psychiatric facility.
She testified again in 2019 in front of the California Senate Public Safety Committee on behalf of the Phoenix Act, which was a bill Wood helped pass into law. During this testimony, Wood recounts new details about her abuse, such as grooming, hiding a drug and alcohol problem from her, ridiculing her for not dressing a certain way, isolating her from friends and family, bragging about the ability to have people killed, illegally collecting data as blackmail, and hacking her email and social media accounts.
Wood said she was up against some “very powerful, very rich, very entitled, very narcissistic white men.”
She also said that he starved her, deprived her of sleep, and would threaten to kill her with deadly weapons, as well as threatening to kill her friends and family, which was all recorded on videotapes. She cites learning that her abuser had abused several other people as the reason for creating The Phoenix Act, which was legislation that would extend the Statute of Limitations in California from 1-3 years to 10 years. Wood stated that when she learned of the other abuse victims, she tried to bring evidence forward (which she says included photographic and video evidence) to the state, but because her statute of limitations had run out, they couldn’t view it.
In February 2021, Wood finally named Brian Warner, a.k.a. Marilyn Manson, as her abuser in a statement that she posted to Instagram. The post read, “The name of my abuser is Brian Warner, also known to the world as Marilyn Manson. He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission."
She continued, "I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail. I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives."
Following Wood’s statement, a few other women came out with allegations against Manson, giving almost identical accounts of abuse. Her allegations came out in sync with the release of her HBO documentary film Phoenix Rising, which details how Wood helped co-author the Phoenix Act and got it passed into law as well as exploring her abusive relationship with Manson.
Wood Previously Described Her Relationship with Manson As “Very Healthy”
In the years that she was dating Manson, Wood spoke very positively about him. In an interview for GQ, she made statements saying that "for the first time, I really feel like I'm around somebody and in an environment where I can just let go and not worry about being judged."
Wood had just appeared in Manson’s music video for the song “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” and the video depicts the two having sex while covered in blood. When asked about this video, she first reassures the interviewer that it was not real.
Wood then detailed the inspiration for the video: “We made it for each other. I just wanted to show that it’s okay to have different, weird ideas about romance. At the end of the video, we’re kissing and it’s raining blood – and for me, that was one of the most romantic moments of my entire life.”
She added, “Honestly. Because that’s how we were feeling at the time: Even though ugliness can be all around you – you can literally be in a thunderstorm of blood – if you look past that, it really is just two people holding on to each other. And you know, the same thing with the sex scene. If you’re going to have a sex scene, that’s what it is. When you’re with someone and you’re in love, that’s usually what happens. It’s not always soft. Sometimes it’s somebody screaming or whatever…”
While discussing what her relationship with Manson is like, she said, "People would be surprised at the kind of healthy, loving relationship we have."
"People would be surprised at the kind of healthy, loving relationship we have."
However, Wood now claims that she was “essentially raped” during the filming of the “Heart-Shaped Glasses” music video and that she was coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretenses.
Manson’s attorney responded to these allegations, categorically denying them. He gave the following statement, "Of all the false claims that Evan Rachel Wood has made about Brian Warner, her imaginative retelling of the making of the 'Heart-Shaped Glasses' music video 15 years ago is the most brazen and easiest to disprove, because there were multiple witnesses.”
He went on, “Evan was not only fully coherent and engaged during the three-day shoot but also heavily involved in weeks of pre-production planning and days of post-production editing of the final cut. The simulated sex scene took several hours to shoot with multiple takes using different angles and several long breaks in between camera setups. Brian did not have sex with Evan on that set, and she knows that is the truth.”
Marilyn Manson Responds to the Abuse Allegations
Following Wood’s February 2021 allegations, Marilyn Manson released a statement to Instagram, saying, “Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. Regardless of how – and why – others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth.”
A month later, Manson released another statement about how a time will come when he can speak about this situation more, but that he will let the facts speak for themselves, along with a link to a defamation lawsuit he filed against Wood and her girlfriend Ashley “Illma” Gore.
That’s right, Manson is suing Evan Rachel Wood and Illma Gore, claiming that they have constructed an elaborate hoax against him and are lying about the abuse. In the suit, bold claims are made against the two women, including the impersonation of an FBI agent, recruiting fellow accusers and providing them with scripts and checklists to lob accusations against Manson, making knowingly false statements including the allegation that Manson filmed the sexual assault of a minor, and hacking into his social media accounts and files to plant false evidence against him such as illicit pornography.
Manson claims Wood and Gore have constructed an elaborate hoax against him.
The suit also states that Gore “swatted” him to draw attention to the allegations against him. Manson claims Wood fabricated a letter from an FBI agent in a division that doesn’t exist and provides text messages that he says show Wood collaborating with Gore on how to write the letter. The letter alleged that Manson was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation and that Wood and her family were believed to be unsafe living in Los Angeles during the criminal proceedings. Manson claims this letter was intended to persuade other accusers to cooperate under the pretense that Manson was under federal investigation and by agreeing to do so, they could be included in Wood’s, a famous actress, inner circle.
This letter was cited by Wood in a California custody proceeding with her ex-husband Jamie Bell as evidence for why she needed to relocate her and her son to Tennessee. Bell filed a motion in response stating that Wood’s story “defies credibility” and “I frankly do not understand what is happening. Either Evan's claims that she is receiving 'death threats' are true and Jack is not safe in her care, or they are not true and she is withholding our son from me for other reasons of her own invention.” He also said that as an actor who has faced threats himself, he is skeptical of Wood’s claims about installing security at her home for fear of her safety because he has no indication that Wood even has a security guard in place.
Manson’s Former Female Connections Send Mixed Messages
Other women connected to Manson – both professionally and personally – have given conflicting evidence regarding Manson’s alleged guilt.
Dita Von Teese, who was in a relationship with Manson for seven years and married for one year, stated that the allegations against her ex-husband do not match her personal experience during their seven years together as a couple and stated that she left him due to infidelity and drug abuse.
Rose McGowan, who was engaged to Manson for two years, offered support to Wood despite insisting she herself was not abused. She said in a video, "When he was with me, he was not like that, but that has no bearing on whether he was like that with others before or after."
"When he was with me, he was not like that, but that has no bearing on whether he was like that with others before or after."
On the other hand, Manson’s former assistant Ashley Walters is suing him for sexual assault, battery, and harassment back when she was his employee in 2010-2011. Her lawsuit claims that Manson "used his position of power, celebrity and connections to exploit and victimize" her and that he "lured Ms. Walters into employment with promises of artistic collaborations and creative opportunities." The judge has questioned why Walters waited until May 2021 to file her suit.
A woman who had a brief romantic fling with Manson in the past corroborated Manson’s claim that Wood and Gore tried to recruit former lovers of Manson’s to come forward with similar allegations. Greta Aurora claims Wood and Gore tried to recruit her to make allegations against the star and that Gore made two attempts to contact her so that they could meet on a Zoom call to coordinate stories. She also claims Gore tried to use her connection to Wood to entice Aurora into getting involved.
While Aurora is cited in Walter’s lawsuit against Manson as evidence of his “degradation of female fans,” Aurora insists it’s false. She states that even though she was in a vulnerable position as a 19-year-old who barely spoke English, Manson treated her with the utmost respect and always asked for her consent even though she would have been the ideal victim for someone with predatory tendencies.
The Phoenix Act: Should There Be a Statute of Limitations on Sexual Assault?
The Phoenix Act is a nonprofit organization that was created by Evan Rachel Wood. The organization's mission is to help domestic violence survivors get justice. By testifying to Congress about her personal experience of alleged abuse, Wood helped pass legislation also entitled “The Phoenix Act” that extended the statute of limitations in the state of California. She proposed a bill that would extend the statute of limitations to 10 years in situations where there is undeniable evidence or when three or more people accuse a single perpetrator. A compromise was reached, and the bill was signed into law, but only extending the limitations to 5 years instead of 10.
While I’m unsure as to why she included the condition of three or more accusers warranting an extension of the statute of limitations, I personally don’t think it’s sufficient reason. There is a reason the statute of limitations exists, as unpopular of an opinion as that may be. In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if survivors of abuse could decide to come forward and press charges whenever they’re ready, but the reality is that the longer you wait to report a crime, the smaller the chance you have of seeing justice. This is because evidence degrades over time, especially in sexual assault and domestic violence cases, which are especially time-sensitive.
Whether you agree that victims should have the right to come forward many years after the fact, it’s worth noting that both victims and the potentially falsely accused benefit from immediate reporting. The longer you wait, the more the case devolves into a situation of he said/she said and it becomes very difficult to present a solid legal case. Exactly how long the statute of limitations should be, I don’t know, but I think it’s harmful to promote the idea that you can wait for however long you want to move forward with charges.
The choice to file charges against an abuser is a personal one, but we shouldn’t lie to victims about the time-sensitive nature of these cases. We should encourage victims to report these crimes to the police immediately if it’s safe for them to do so. This also makes it easier to determine the validity of claims through time stamps, GPS coordinates, eye-witness statements, transactions, and other physical evidence that become more difficult to access over time.
In this specific case, we should let the evidence speak for itself. While Wood has claimed to have photographic and video evidence, she has yet to present it at this time. Over the coming months, more information may come to light and this case may drag on for many years before reaching a resolution.
Help make Evie even better! Take the official Evie reader survey.