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Metal Crimes

Judge Rules Esmé Bianco’s Lawsuit Against MARILYN MANSON Alleging Rape & Abuse Can Proceed

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Esmé Bianco scored a big legal victory in her ongoing lawsuit against shock rocker Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner). Deadline reports a U.S. District Court Judge is allowing the case to proceed.

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While Manson's attorneys tried to have the lawsuit dismissed on statute-of-limitations grounds, the judge disagreed, writing “a reasonable jury could find that the effects of Warner’s alleged unconscionable acts, including the perceived threat to Plaintiff’s safety, immigration status, and career, persisted years after her last contact with Warner.” 

Manson's team will now have to file formal answers to each of the claims in Bianco's lawsuit within two weeks. Manson's now-former manager, Tony Ciulla, was originally also named in the lawsuit but was dropped in an amended filing.

Bianco says in a statement “My hope is that this ruling empowers other survivors to pursue justice for themselves while signaling to abusers that they cannot bully victims into silence.”

In May, Manson’s attorney Howard E. King released a statement responding to the claims to the Associated Press "These claims are provably false. 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."

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According to Rolling Stone, Bianco's claim accuses Manson of the following:

“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.”

The claim also goes on to position that Manson and Ciulla  violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. 

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.”

Bianco was one of many women to speak out in recent months of claims of abuse wielded towards Marilyn Manson. In an interview with New York magazine, Bianco said the two were friends for a few years, but things got physical on the set of his 2009 music video “I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies." Bianco claims the violence began on set.

Their dynamic changed in 2009, after Manson sent Bianco a plane ticket from her home in London to L.A. so she could star in the music video for his song “I Want to Kill YouLike They Do in the Movies.”He explained that it would be shot on a flip camera for a home-video feel and would involve Manson “kidnapping” Bianco in his home. “I need to have a victim/lover,” he wrote in an email. Bianco believed that the job would be strictly professional. “You are gonna have to pretend to like being manhandled by me. Sorry,” Manson emailed her a few days before the shoot. Once she arrived, she says, the line between art and reality immediately blurred. Bianco, who was 26 at the time, says she spent the next three days in lingerie, barely sleeping or eating, with Manson serving up cocaine rather than food. She remembers him losing his temper and throwing the camera at a smoke alarm. Soon, she says, he became violent, tying her with cables to a prayer kneeler, lashing her with a whip, and using an electric sex toy called a Violet Wand on her wounds — the same kind of “torture device” Wood has said was used on her. Bianco was terrified but tried to calm down by telling herself, It’s just Manson being theatrical. We are going to make great art.

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While waiting for her flight back home, Bianco sobbed. She felt sad to leave Manson and considered her wounds to be proof of their bond. On some level, she knew what had happened wasn’t BDSM; she says they hadn’t discussed consent or safe words, which she knew from both personal experience and the fetish performers in her circle were crucial for safe power dynamics. A few days after the shoot, Manson emailed Bianco a picture of her back covered in welts with a note reading, “bringing sexy back.”

The video never ended up being released and Bianco never saw the footage from that shoot. Despite all this, the two began a long-distance affair. When they met, she alleges Manson would bite her during sex without consent, and leave her whole body bruised. Bianco claims Manson's personal assistant, Ashley Walters, managed travel for Bianco and other women. Walters was one of the other women who publicly named Manson last week.

Bianco was eventually convinced to move in with Manson. She divorced her husband, left their London home and moved in with Manson in LA, and after a brief honeymoon period, he became incredibly controlling.

She says he dictated what she could wear (she says he preferred her in a short pencil dress with stockings), her sleep schedule (“I was often violently shaken awake should I go to sleep without permission,” she told the California Assembly), and when she could come and go from the apartment (she says she didn’t have a key). One night in May, Manson sent Walters a text saying someone had broken a glass in the studio and that “Esme is gonna get the brunt of this. Don’t care.”

“I basically felt like a prisoner,” says Bianco. “I came and went at his pleasure. Who I spoke to was completely controlled by him. I called my family hiding in the closet.”

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Bianco claims that Manson would play her sex scene from Game of Thrones on a projector for guests, and she would feel humiliated. He would say “That’s my girlfriend, she’s a whore. Look, her tits are out.” 

She accuses him of cutting her with a knife. Manson sent photos of what he did to Walters and a bandmate with the subject "See what happens?" The breaking point came two months into living together when Manson chased her around the apartment with an ax. This led to her to find another apartment and eventually break it off. There is plenty more to the story you can read at The Cut. Bianco testified publicly alongside Wood a few years ago, but at the time did not name Manson as her abuser.

On February 1st, actress Evan Rachel Wood publicly named Manson as her abuser, after previously detailing being mentally and physically tortured by an older man when she was 18-years-old. You can see the details of her accusations here. She later elaborated that Manson "started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years," adding "I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission." Wood released a second statement accusing Manson and his current wife of trying to blackmail her into silence. One of Manson's former personal assistants has backed her claims and alleged Manson is abusing his current wife.

Wood began signal-boosting other women who spoke of the abuse they alleged Manson caused to them. Another accuser has since come forward saying Manson pulled a gun on her and accused him of drugging his girlfriend at the time.

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Limp Bizkit's Wes Borland, who played with Manson in 1998, was the first artist to speak out, and said that everything Wood was saying was true. Trent Reznor released a statement denouncing him. Another musician, Phoebe Bridgers, revealed she went over to Manson's house as a teenager and he joked of having "a rape room."

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