Game of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco has sued Marilyn Manson and his former manager, Tony Ciulla, alleging that the singer raped and sexually battered her. The complaint, filed Friday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, also claims that Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, Ciulla, and Ciulla’s management company violated human-trafficking laws by bringing her from London to Los Angeles under the pretense that she would be acting in a music video that never came out and a film that was never made.
The British actress, who played Ros on the hit HBO show, was one of more than a dozen women to speak out against the shock-rocker earlier this year. In February, she detailed the alleged abuse stemming from her relationship with Warner when they were a couple in 2011 in an interview with New York magazine. On Friday, she added fresh claims in the new legal filing. The complaint marks the first legal action against Warner since allegations of sexual and physical abuse surfaced this year.
“Mr. Warner used drugs, force, and threats of force to coerce sexual acts from Ms. Bianco on multiple occasions,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Warner raped Ms. Bianco in or around May 2011.” It goes on to claim that Warner “committed sexual acts” with Bianco at times when she was unconscious or unable to consent, and lists the ways she claims he sexually battered her: “These acts include spanking, biting, cutting, and whipping Ms. Bianco’s buttocks, breasts, and genitals for Mr. Warner’s sexual gratification — all without the consent of Plaintiff.”
Bianco alleges that Warner violated California laws for sexual assault and sexual battery, further claiming that Warner and Ciulla violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Ciulla Management — the company founded by Ciulla that has managed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rob Zombie, Tove Lo, and others over the years — is also named as a defendant in the last claim. Ciulla represented Warner for more than 25 years before cutting ties with him in February following the assault allegations.
According to the complaint, Warner engaged in human trafficking when he “employed fraud” in enticing Bianco to the United States to appear in a music video for his song “I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies” and a never-made horror film based on the works of Lewis Carroll called Phantasmagoria. “He promised work opportunities that never appeared while inserting himself in her visa process,” the complaint says. He continued his fraud, she alleges, when he “[directed] Ms. Bianco to draft paperwork to confirm that she would star in his upcoming film.” Furthermore, the filing adds, “By inserting himself in Ms. Bianco’s visa process, Mr. Warner was able to control Ms. Bianco by threatening to withdraw support if she displeased him.” At one point, she claims, he prevented her from escaping by locking her in a bedroom.
Bianco also alleged he forced her to perform “unpaid labor,” violating U.S. law regarding human trafficking. “This included serving and preparing food for Mr. Warner and his guests, cleaning his apartment, consulting on his album, providing uncredited backup vocals during the creative process for the album Born Villain, and being offered up to his guests and bandmates to ‘spank,'” the lawsuit alleges. “Mr. Warner implied that because he had brought Ms. Bianco to the United States and provided housing, she owed him labor and sexual intimacy.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Bianco noted her role in the Phoenix Act, the California law that expands rights for domestic-abuse survivors, championed by actress Evan Rachel Wood, who has also accused Warner of abuse. “As millions of survivors like myself are painfully aware, our legal system is far from perfect,” Bianco says. “This is why I co-created the Phoenix Act, a law which gives precious additional healing time to thousands of domestic violence survivors. But while I fight for a more just legal system, I am also pursuing my right to demand my abuser be held to account, using every avenue available to me.
“For far too long, my abuser has been left unchecked, enabled by money, fame, and an industry that turned a blind eye,” she adds. “Despite the numerous brave women who have spoken out against Marilyn Manson, countless survivors remain silenced, and some of their voices will never be heard. My hope is that by raising mine, I will help to stop Brian Warner from shattering any more lives and empower other victims to seek their own small measure of justice.”
“These claims are provably false,” Manson’s attorney, Howard King, says in a statement Rolling Stone. “To be clear, this suit was only filed after my client refused to be shaken down by Ms. Bianco and her lawyer and give in to their outrageous financial demands based on conduct that simply never occurred. We will vigorously contest these allegations in court and are confident that we will prevail.”
In addition to her allegations of sexual abuse, she claims Warner controlled her by giving her drugs and depriving her of food and sleep. This was, the suit says, “in order to weaken her physically and mentally and decrease her ability to refuse him.” Bianco is seeking unspecified damages for the abuse she says she suffered.
Bianco claims that Ciulla and his management company are also responsible because they benefited financially from “allowing this abuse to continue.” Additionally, she claims that Ciulla Management was aware of the way Warner’s assistant would serve as a “babysitter” when the singer wasn’t around. “Mr. Warner’s former assistants discussed Mr. Warner’s abuse directly with Mr. Ciulla,” the suit claims. “Mr. Warner’s management had a vested interest in supporting his violent tendencies to encourage the creation of his ‘art’ and the promotion of the brand of Marilyn Manson, and were complicit in Mr. Warner’s abuse of Ms. Bianco.”
“This attempt to involve Ciulla Management in this action is not only legally meritless but also offensive and absurd,” Ciulla’s lawyer, Edwin McPherson, tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “We look forward to formally contesting these completely frivolous allegations.”
As Bianco told New York in February, she first met Warner through his then-fiancée, Dita Von Teese, in 2005. After his divorce from Von Teese in 2007, he pursued Bianco, allegedly asking her for nude photos and enticing her with the Phantasmagoria film project. She claims he flew her to Los Angeles in February 2009 for the music-video shoot. “Upon arrival, Ms. Bianco found that there was no crew present and that she was expected to stay at Mr. Warner’s home rather than in the hotel that had been previously booked,” the lawsuit says. It claims Warner did not give her food for the four-day shoot, instead plying her with alcohol and drugs, making her wear lingerie the entire time, and not allowing her to sleep and to be on call 24 hours a day.
During the shoot, Bianco claims Warner acted erratically, at one point breaking his camera in a fit of anger. She says he made her watch a movie so violent that she fainted, and that he tried to force her to perform sexual acts with another woman on camera. “Perhaps most horrifyingly, Mr. Warner locked Ms. Bianco in the bedroom, tied her to a prayer kneeler, and beat her with a whip that Mr. Warner said was utilized by the Nazis,” the lawsuit says. “He also electrocuted her.”
In May 2009, the lawsuit continues, Warner flew to London and he and Bianco struck up a consensual sexual relationship. During this time, though, he allegedly groped her in public without her consent and made her adhere to a dress code. “[He] forced her to sit at his feet during press visits,” the filing says. “He verbally degraded her during interviews. He also attempted to bring a minor back to the hotel with him and Ms. Bianco.”
They maintained a long-distance relationship until April 2011, when he asked Bianco to move to Los Angeles and said he would secure her a visa, according to the filing. She lived with Warner until she reached her breaking point two and a half months later. It was then, she says, that he threatened her visa status, kept her prisoner in his apartment, and locked her in a closet.
“On one occasion, Mr. Warner chased Plaintiff around the apartment with an ax, smashing holes in the walls,” the lawsuit claims. “On another occasion, Mr. Warner cut Ms. Bianco with a Nazi knife during sex, without her consent, and photographed the cuts on her body. He then posted the photos online without her consent. Mr. Warner’s friends, bandmates, assistant, producer, and other colleagues witnessed various aspects of this abuse — including Mr. Ciulla.”
She escaped one day in June 2011, the lawsuit says, when Warner was sleeping. When he learned she had left, she says, he threatened her visa again. They saw each other again two years later after one of Warner’s concerts. She met him on his bus afterward, where he “forcibly kissed her without her consent and attempted to block her from leaving,” the filing claims. In the New York article, Warner’s then-assistant said the incident lasted until 5 a.m.
“I am inspired by Ms. Bianco’s courage and dedication to holding Brian Warner accountable,” Bianco’s lawyer, Jay Ellwanger, tells Rolling Stone. “While we understand that the criminal investigations are still ongoing, it is vital that we pursue every possible avenue to hold him accountable for the horrific acts he committed.” Since Warner’s accusers went public with the allegations, Loma Vista, his record label, and booking agent CAA dropped him from their rosters, while TV shows American Gods and Creepshow removed his planned performances.
In February, Warner responded to the women’s claims in a statement, calling them “horrible distortions of reality.” “My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners,” he wrote. “Regardless of how — and why — others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth.”
In the New York article, Bianco described the singer as a “monster who almost destroyed me and almost destroyed so many women.” “He’s told the world time and time again, ‘This is who I am,'” she said. “He hid in plain sight.”
Esme Bianco’s Lawsuit Against Brian Warner aka Marilyn Manson