On December 13, 2023, Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP (HSRD) along with Valli Kane and Vagnini LLP won a precedent setting victory against Marilyn Manson. They represent Ashley Walters, Marilyn Manson’s former assistant, in bringing claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and assault and battery among others against Marilyn Manson while she worked for him over a decade ago. The complaint states that Ms. Walters is one of many women that Manson subjected to horrific physical, mental, and sexual abuse. He sexually assaulted her, “offered” her up to other men who assaulted her, whipped her, threw dishes at her, and threw her into a wall. He bragged about getting away with raping women, manipulated her, and threatened that he could kill people and destroy peoples’ lives. He used violence, threats, and intimidation to silence her, so she feared coming forward.
Ms. Walters experienced trauma-induced repression of some of the assaults she suffered at Manson’s hands, and only later remembered them after speaking with other survivors and entering therapy. Because she did not remember certain acts of abuse until 2020 or later, the delayed discovery rule theory allows her to pursue her claims. The trial court wrongly rejected the repressed memory rule and threw out her case. Ms. Walters appealed and the Court of Appeal sided with her.
HSRD Partner, Tanya Sukhija-Cohen, who argued the case before the Court of Appeal, said “This is a monumental decision for survivors of sexual assault and harassment across California. The decision makes clear the courts must consider how trauma can impact survivors’ ability to come forward.” The Court of Appeal agreed that Ms. Walters could rely on the delayed discovery (repressed memory) rule to bring her lawsuit, even though she repressed some, but not all, memories of abuse. While it will be up to a jury whether she actually repressed those memories and filed her case within a reasonable time after recovering her memories, her suit can go forward and she will have her day in court.
This is a tremendous victory for Ms. Walters and for all survivors of assault and traumatic sexual harassment.
The decision is available here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/B322186.PDF.