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Sex abuse suit against Marilyn Manson tossed as untimely

The judge found a California law extending the statute of limitations on sex assault claims to 10 years is not retroactive.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Los Angeles County judge on Wednesday dismissed a sexual assault lawsuit against rocker Marilyn Manson filed by his former assistant Ashley Walters, finding the statute of limitations had lapsed.

"The plaintiff has pled too few facts to keep this complaint in court, and too late, most importantly," said Judge Michael Stern.

Walters first sued Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, in May 2021. After Manson's lawyers argued that the allegations in the suit, many of which dated back to 2011 and 2012, fell outside the statute of limitations, Stern gave Walters permission to file an amended complaint in which she claimed she had suppressed the memory of much of Manson's abusive behavior.

According to the revised complaint, Walters "was unable to recall many of the physical and emotional abuses until the fall of 2020 when countless repressed memories flooded back to [Walters] after meeting numerous other victims of [Manson] and obtaining counseling from a mental health professional."

"There were memories she could not recall due to PTSD," said her lawyer, Tanya Sukhija-Cohen, at Wednesday's hearing. "Once the memories came back, she immediately thought to get an attorney and notify law enforcement."

Victims of sexual assault and harassment used to have three years to file a lawsuit in California. That changed in 2020, after the Legislature passed a law extending the time limit to 10 years. Judge Stern, however, said that he understood the new law "is not retroactive," meaning that it only applies to allegations made after 2020.

In a statement, Walters's attorneys said they disagreed with the judge's interpretation of the law would be filing an appeal. During the hearing, Sukhija-Cohen argued that since Walters' memories had been repressed, they were exempt from the statute of limitations.

"Nobody gets to choose exactly how they process abuse or threats," Walters said in a statement. "I am disheartened in the court’s decision today not just for my case, but for the message it sends to other survivors out there trying to balance how they process abuse with arbitrary court deadlines."

Manson's attorney Gene Williams argued Walters' claims were contradictory, at times saying the memories of alleged acts of sexual harassment and assault were repressed, and at other times that the behavior had the immediate effect of intimidating the young assistant.

"This is an issue of whether the plaintiff has pled facts to get around statute of limitations," said Williams, adding, "The allegations ended in 2011. There is no justification for not bringing the suit for 10 years after that."

Manson's personal attorney Howard King did not return a phone call requesting a comment.

Manson still faces a bevy of other sexual misconduct lawsuits, including one filed by "Game of Thrones" actress Esmé Bianco, claiming, among other things, that Manson raped her; one by ex-girlfirend Ashley Morgan Smithline claiming Manson sexually assaulted her, cut her and whipped her; and one by an anonymous ex-girlfriend who says Manson raped her and subjected her to “degrading acts of sexual exploitation, manipulation, and psychological abuse.” A judge ruled that the latter's claims fell outside the statute of limitations but allowed her to amend her complaint.

Detectives from the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau raided Manson's house this past November as part of what they called an “ongoing investigation.” The musician has yet to be charged with a crime. He has, at numerous times, claimed that he is innocent. He has also sued Evan Rachel Wood for defamation over the HBO docuseries, "Phoenix Rising," which lays out a case that Manson is a serial abuser of women and had once raped Wood on camera.

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