Ashley Walters, Marilyn Manson’s former assistant, is suing the singer for sexual assault, battery, and harassment. Her complaint, filed on Tuesday in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, includes allegations that Manson was a terrifying boss who had violent outbursts, made Walters work for 48 hours straight, and told his friends they could kiss and grope her.
Walters, 37, is one of more than a dozen women who have claimed Manson was abusive toward them, including the actress Evan Rachel Wood, who said Manson raped and beat her during their relationship. The suit comes on the heels of another filed by the Game of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco, who told the Cut that she was sexually assaulted, whipped, and electrocuted over the course of her two-year-long relationship with the singer. Manson has been dropped by his manager and talent agency and is under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for alleged domestic violence. A member of Manson’s team told the Cut that the singer “vehemently denied any accusations of assault” in relation to Walters’s complaint.
Walters met Manson in May 2010, after the singer reached out to her on MySpace to say he liked her work, according to the complaint. The then 26-year-old aspiring photographer thought it was a joke at first, but when they began talking on the phone and he offered a potential collaboration, Walters leapt at the opportunity.
She first visited Manson’s West Hollywood home to look at his paintings, talk about art, and discuss how they might work together. Walters tried to leave around 2 a.m., after his assistant and bandmates had gone home, but Manson said the lot where he had told her to park was closed until 7 a.m. Then he asked to do a photo shoot, and at one point requested Walters take off her shirt, according to the lawsuit. She was “not opposed to provocative art in theory,” the complaint reads, “but the way in which [Manson] insisted caused her to pause.”
Walters kept her bra on, and when Manson finished taking photos, the lawsuit says he pushed her on his bed, pinned her down, and tried to kiss her. Manson “then moved behind Walters and bit her ear while grabbing her hand and placing it in his underwear,” according to the complaint. Walters told the Cut she was able to roll off the bed, and as soon as the parking lot opened, she left and walked to her car. She wasn’t sure how to feel about what had happened, she said, and told herself that since he had stopped, it probably wasn’t assault.
Manson immediately began bombarding her with texts about how talented she was, according to the complaint, and she still wanted the chance to work together. The two stayed in touch and saw each other a few more times to do photo and video shoots; three months later, Manson asked her to be his personal assistant. He offered double the salary she was making as an office coordinator at a production company and promised the gig would involve art projects and travel. “She knew it could be an incredible opportunity to become involved in the creative entertainment field,” the complaint reads, “one that would not be likely to come around again.” She said “yes.”
But from the moment Walters started working for Manson, she says there was nothing normal about her job. The singer kept a nocturnal schedule, and blackout curtains were always drawn in his house, forcing Walters to walk around with a headlamp. Sometimes the singer would stay up for days, often fueled by coke binges, and Walters was also expected to work for 48 hours straight, according to the lawsuit. She lived in fear of his angry outbursts, the complaint says, which included throwing dishes at Walters or pushing her against a wall, along with constant threats (at one point, he emailed her a photo of Bianco’s cut up back with the subject line: “See what happens?”).
“You just put your head down and you’re in survival mode,” she told the Cut. “At the time I felt isolated, like I couldn’t go anywhere.”
Some of the most disturbing behavior described in the lawsuit includes allegations that Manson “commonly offered Walters up to his influential industry friends and associates.” At an awards show in September 2010, Manson “pushed Walters onto the lap of an actor and bragged that he could ‘have her,’” the lawsuit reads. “The actor proceeded to kiss Walters and keep her on his lap.” The next month, the complaint says Manson introduced her to a director who repeatedly groped Walters and shoved his hand up her skirt while covering her mouth. She said the singer expected her to please his friends, whether that meant bringing them food, flirting with them, or letting them touch her.
“It made me feel like I was his property,” she told the Cut. “It just made me feel like a piece of meat.” A former member of Manson’s inner circle who asked to remain anonymous said they witnessed Manson tell Walters to sit on men’s laps, and said that he “offered up Ashley more than a few times.”
By summer 2011, the complaint says, Manson had become paranoid, accusing Walter of trying to sabotage his career. He started to try and smear her reputation by telling colleagues in the entertainment business that she was bad at her job, according to the lawsuit. He had allegedly ordered Walters and others, including Wood, to appear in photos wearing Nazi paraphernalia, knowing that he could use them as collateral if anyone spoke up against him.
Then, after a series of arguments that summer, Manson fired her. Afterward, he hacked into her Facebook account, accused her of stealing his art, and continued to threaten her, according to the complaint. Eventually, Walters says, he started texting her again with updates about his life. She still didn’t want to cut him off entirely, and thought it was better to “have him as a friend as opposed to an enemy.”
But her mentality changed when Wood gave her harrowing testimony in front of Congress in 2018, as part of her advocacy to extend the statute of limitations for domestic violence offenses. Though she hadn’t heard the details before, Walters knew Wood was talking about Manson when she described being tied up and tortured. Then, in the fall of 2020, a group of Manson’s ex-girlfriends, including Wood and Bianco, reached out to her and they all began sharing stories. “A lot of the isolation and a lot of the psychological abuse was very similar to what I experienced,” she said.
“Once I realized how many people had been affected, I couldn’t sit by and let this happen to anyone else,” Walters said. “My end goal is just to hold him accountable.”