Lawyers for Marilyn Manson and the ex-assistant accusing him of “deranged” sexual harassment and assault squared off in a California courtroom Wednesday over the shock rocker’s latest attempt to beat back allegations that he was a violent sex predator who terrorized women.
At the hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, a lawyer for plaintiff Ashley Walters argued that the court should deny Manson’s latest motion to toss Walters’ lawsuit on statute-of-limitations grounds because the musician, whose real name is Brian Warner, used threatening behavior to secure his former staffer’s silence.
“There’s a host of unconscionable conduct that deterred her from filing suit, not just threats but also violence and intimidation and other coercive acts,” Walters’ lawyer Tanya Sukhija-Cohen told Judge Michael J. Stern. (Walters ended her yearlong employment with Warner in October 2011.)
In court filings, Walters has alleged Warner whipped her, threw dishes at her, pushed her into a wall, broke down doors to get to her, charged at her and repeatedly told her “he wanted to kill women, that he had gotten away with raping women, and that he had the ability to ‘destroy lives.'”
It wasn’t until Walters attended a support group organized by other Warner accusers and attended therapy “that the effects of the unconscionable conduct by Mr. Warner ceased,” Sukhija-Cohen argued Wednesday.
Warner’s lawyer, Gene Williams, pushed back at the hearing, urging Judge Stern to reject the lawsuit as too old.
“The bottom line is the statute of limitations on these claims ran out two to three years after her employment ended,” Williams argued. “There were no threats that prevented her from coming forward, nor any allegations of threats in the complaint between the time period when her employment ended and when she finally came forward. The idea that they can now take threats — or allegations of threats — from 2019 and 2021, years after the statutory period ended, and claim that those threats now explain why she didn’t bring her suit eight years earlier than those threats, is insufficient,” Williams argued.
Judge Stern declined to rule from the bench Wednesday, telling the lawyers he would issue his decision on the demurrer motion at a later time.
In his Nov. 30 filing asking the court to reject Walter’s complaint, Warner called her claims of sexual harassment and assault “meritless” and expired. His lawyer wrote that Warner “categorically” denied the “fabricated allegations” and considered them “part of an orchestrated attempt to weaponize the #MeToo movement to assassinate Warner’s character in a blatant money grab.”
In her own prior filings, Walters has argued she didn’t “discover” her injury until the fall of 2020, when other Warner accusers including Game of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco invited her to join their support group. It was then Walters realized her alleged abuse was “not only traumatic but unlawful,” her paperwork states.
Walters is now one of four women suing Warner in California for his alleged sexual misconduct and abuse. She filed her complaint last May, alleging the once-celebrated musician subjected her to more than a year of “sexual exploitation, manipulation, and psychological abuse” after luring her to his residence in May 2010 with the promise of a professional collaboration.
She alleges Warner “pushed her onto his bed and pinned down her arms” while attempting to kiss her. He then “moved behind Walters and bit her ear while grabbing her hand and placing it in his underwear,” her complaint states.
Walters says the incident left her fearful and confused, but she “unconsciously made the decision to focus on their shared interests and ignore the traumatizing experience of being pinned to his bed.”
At a follow-up video shoot, Warner directed her to remove her clothes, don a Nazi jacket and get into bed with an actor who, unbeknownst to her, was masturbating under the covers, she claims. When she realized what was happening and tried to leave, the actor allegedly “threw her against the wall and roughly shoved his tongue into her mouth,” her paperwork states.
In an amended complaint filed in October, Walters says it wasn’t until she joined the support group that she realized Warner “arranged for her to be sexually harassed and assaulted by the actor at his direction.”
Walters claims Warner convinced her to take the job as his personal assistant in August 2010 by offering to double what she was earning at her prior position and bombarding her with praise about her photography work.
She alleges in her filing that her typical work day with Warner started at 5 p.m. and lasted through the night. She described Warner’s chilly and dark residence as “peculiar and disorienting.” She said employees used flashlights to move around, and if the thermostat rose about 65 degrees, Warner “would explode in anger and screaming fits to the extent that he would break furniture and household items.”
Walters claims that during some of Warner’s alleged “drug-induced fits of rage,” he would throw things at her, threaten to commit suicide, shove her, and force her to stay awake for extended periods.
In harrowing detail, Walters describes how she allegedly was forced to witness abuse that Warner inflicted on his ex-fiancée Evan Rachel Wood as well as Bianco. Walters says she once witnessed Warner “throw a prop skull so hard at Wood that it left a large, raised welt on her stomach.”
Last April, Bianco filed a lawsuit in federal court in California claiming Warner raped her, whipped her, held her captive, and otherwise sexually battered her during a tortured dating relationship.
In June, model Ashley Morgan Smithline sued Manson for sexual assault, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, human trafficking, and unlawful imprisonment, among other allegations.
A former girlfriend who sued anonymously as a Jane Doe in May claims Warner brutally raped her at his residence in 2011.
More than a dozen other women have also alleged sexual impropriety and abuse against Manson.
Wood and Bianco also worked to pass the Phoenix Act in California, a bill that extends the statute of limitations for domestic-violence survivors to pursue charges against their abusers.