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Marilyn Manson sex abuse suit revived by appeals court

An appellate panel disagreed that the statute of limitations had run out on claims by Manson's former assistant, on the grounds that Ashley Walters had said that she recovered repressed memories of the abuse in 2020.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A state appellate court, on Wednesday, revived a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against the singer Marilyn Manson by a former assistant of his, Ashley Walters.

The suit was dismissed, in May 2022, after a Superior Court Judge found that the statute of limitations on Walters' claims had lapsed, as the alleged abuse all took place between 2010 and 2011. In her complaint, Walters had said she had been "unable to recall many of the physical and emotional abuses until the fall of 2020 when countless repressed memories flooded back to [her] after meeting numerous other victims of [Manson] and obtaining counseling from a mental health professional."

By law, that would have started the two-year statute of limitations clock in 2020.

But Manson's attorneys said Walters' claims in her first and amended complaints were contradictory, that she had said that she had repressed memories of Manson's abusive behavior, but was also bullied into staying silent by Manson's intimidation.

"This is an issue of whether the plaintiff has pled facts to get around statute of limitations," said Manson's attorney, Gene Wiliams, at a 2022 hearing.

Ruling from the bench, Judge Michael Stern said “in light of the factual nuances that have been pled in the amended complaint versus the one we first saw, ... I come to the same conclusion that I did the first time that the statute of limitations bars the action and that the discovery rule is not applicable — the delayed discovery rule is not applicable here because I don’t feel based on the factual pleadings that there are sufficient facts to invoke the rule.”

But the appellate court's three-judge panel disagreed, writing in their Wednesday decision, "These allegations of suppressed memories and psychological blocking are sufficient to withstand a demurrer." The question of whether or not Walters was lying about having repressed memories was a "factual issue that cannot be resolved on a demurrer."

The ruling sends the complaint back to the lower court, where it can proceed toward a trial.

Walters' suit, first filed in 2021, charged Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, with sexual assault, sexual harassment, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to the complaint, Walters, while working as Manson's personal assistant, was "treated like property and offered up to sexually please Warner’s famous friends and business contacts," including an actor and a director.

"Warner physically abused her on multiple occasions, including whipping her and throwing her against a wall during a drug-induced rage," Walters said in the complaint. "Warner forced her to stay awake for 48 hours straight, one time requiring her to stand on a chair for 12 hours, and he fed her cocaine to keep her awake."

Manson's abuse was hardly reserved just for his assistant, according to Walters, which said that Manson once showed Walters "a video in which he stripped and whipped a young female fan until the fan screamed and cried. The video portrayed Warner forcing the fan to drink urine, pointing a gun at her, and placing the gun inside her underwear."

The suit also claimed that Manson took photographs of Walters, some nude, some wearing Nazi memorabilia, and kept the photos for blackmail purposes.

In 2020, Walters joined a support group, where, according to court documents, she began recovering repressed memories from her time working for Manson.

Manson has been sued by at least six other women, including Esmé Bianco, an actress who appeared on the TV show "Game of Thrones," for various forms of sexual misconduct. Some of those, including Bianco's, reached settlements. He has also been accused of abuse by his former fiancé, actress Evan Rachel Wood. Wood also appeared in an HBO docuseries, "Phoenix Rising," about Manson's abuse. Manson sued Wood for defamation; parts of the complaint were thrown out on anti-SLAPP grounds, but some of it survived.

A 19-month investigation by the LA County Sheriff's Department into Manson's physical and sexual abuse was turned over to District Attorney George Gascon in Sept. 2022. At the time, the DA said there was "more material that is still outstanding," and that there was no timeline for either filing charges or not filing charges against Manson.

Attorneys for Manson did not respond to emails requesting a comment on Wednesday's ruling.

Ashley Walters’ attorney, Dan Stormer, called the judge’s ruling “exceptional,” and said, “it gives us complete vindication.” He added: "This is horribly egregious conduct that cannot go unaddressed, and the appellate court ruling allows us to do that.”

Stormer said he expects the case to go to trial, and that he’ll ask the jury for a “high-seven figure amount.” He said that he would prove, in front of the jury, that Walters had repressed memories of Manson’s abuse by showing them psychological records, and hearing testimony of her friends. 

The lawyer also noted that many of these kinds of cases are never brought forward.

“This is an industry that needs to be brought into the 21st century, maybe even the 20th century,” he said. "The behavior and treatment of people is just egregious.”

When asked if the names of the actor and director who participated in Walters’ abuse might come out during the trial, Stormer replied, “Yes.”

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Categories / Appeals, Entertainment

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