In 2019, Evan Rachel Wood testified in front of the California Senate Public Safety Committee in support of The Phoenix Act—a law that extends the statute of limitations on domestic violence from three to five years, and requires extensive training for police officers handling cases that involve domestic violence. In her testimony, Wood spoke of being raped and abused by a former partner, an older man whom she became involved with at the age of 18. Though she did not refer to the man by name, given the timeline, it was speculated that Wood was talking about Brian Warner, who performs under the stage name Marilyn Manson. Wood and Warner began a highly publicized romantic relationship in 2007, which ended in a brief engagement in 2010.
On February 1, 2021, Wood named Warner as her abuser on Instagram. After Wood’s post, other women—including Game Of Thrones actor Esmé Bianco, who also testified at the same hearing—began speaking out about the abuse they experienced at the hands of the musician. That afternoon, Warner’s record label, Loma Vista Recordings, released a statement on social media: “In light of today’s disturbing allegations by Evan Rachel Wood and other women naming Marilyn Manson as their abuser, Loma Vista will cease to further promote his current album effective immediately. Due to these concerning developments, we have also decided not to work with Marilyn Manson on any future projects.”
A month later, former Zoey 101 star Alexa Nikolas published an open letter alleging she had been groomed, sexually assaulted, and physically and emotionally abused by another Loma Vista artist: Her ex-husband, Michael Milsoh, of the alternative R&B project Rhye. She tagged the label—whose roster includes Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Common, and other prominent acts—in the Instagram post containing her letter; in her Instagram Stories, she asked Loma Vista to acknowledge her and the other survivors mentioned in the letter. She did not receive a response. Instead, she found she’d been blocked by the label’s social media accounts.
After Nikolas called out Loma Vista for blocking her, she received a DM that reads:
We wanted to reach out to you personally about mistakenly blocking your Twitter account from Loma Vista’s handle yesterday. This was done independently, without approval. This unfortunate mistake was immediately fixed upon becoming aware first thing in the morning, even before your post. We have no intention to silence you. We sincerely apologize for any upset this error may have caused.
Despite the apology, Nikolas told The A.V. Club that Loma Vista did not address her open letter or the allegations it contained. “Literally the day that Evan Rachel Wood put on her Instagram that Marilyn Manson is her abuser, they dropped him,” she says. “To me now it really feels like performative activism.” In a statement to The A.V. Club, a spokesperson for Loma Vista says, “We previously blocked a Twitter account associated with Ms. Nikolas from Loma Vista’s Twitter handle in error and, upon learning of the mistake, we moved quickly to revert the error and remedy the situation. It was never our intention to silence Ms. Nikolas and we communicated our apologies to her directly.” A source familiar with the company also says the label does not currently have any active projects with Milosh.
Since posting her letter, Nikolas has filed a civil complaint against Milosh for sexual battery, gender violence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of California’s Tom Bane Civil Rights Act, and negligence. Nikolas says she’s also heard from others whose experiences with the musician mirror her own. Speaking with The A.V. Club, Nikolas and two other women came forward with allegations of sexual assault, pedophilia, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse against Milosh.
Given Loma Vista’s lack of a public response, and Red Light Management’s continued representation of Rhye, the women feel that the message is clear: allegations of misconduct continue to be swept under the rug in the music industry. While predators in film and TV have recently faced repercussions—with powerful Hollywood men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby serving time in prison—the music industry lags behind in terms of large-scale accountability.
While Marilyn Manson and Ryan Adams have had album and touring plans canceled following revelations of misconduct, it’s rare for musicians to face such repercussions—unless the allegations are being made by people who are household names themselves. (Or, in the case of R. Kelly, a splashy TV documentary ignited a firestorm of protest. His label dropped him soon after.) As Nikolas says, “When it came to me and my story, because I’m not somebody who has a million followers and it wasn’t a huge army of industry people and women that were stepping behind me right away, [Rhye’s label] just dismissed it and they didn’t acknowledge it whatsoever.”
When allegations emerged that Adams had turned offers of mentorship to younger women musicians like Phoebe Bridgers into sexual pursuits, the Guardian’s Laura Snapes wrote that such misogynistic behavior was commonplace in the independent-music scene where Adams once thrived. These are the same circles Milosh travels, and according to Nikolas’ civil complaint, its networks of record labels, publicity firms, and management companies overlooked some of his most heinous behaviors.
Milosh has been contacted for comment, and The A.V. Club is awaiting a response. He previously released a statement to Paste, denying any wrongdoing:
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always strongly supported women and their right to speak out and be heard. That is why the false claims made by my former wife had been so hurtful and shocking to me. Alexa and I were married for nearly seven years. Like all marriages we had our difficulties and tempted to weather them together as best we could. Ultimately, despite our best efforts, we agreed to divorce. I loved her very much and we shared many special years before our marriage ended. I have always wished her nothing but the best and continued to support her financially even after I was no longer required to under our divorce agreement. Eventually, I stopped paying in response, Alexa has resorted to character assassination. However, regarding my ex-wife’s recent Instagram post and its listed as serious and demonstrable untrue accusations, it’s simply a piece of revisionist fiction. These are absurd and outrageous false claims about me that a media outlet has published and repeated falsehoods are beyond irresponsible—it’s defamatory.”
Over the course of several interviews, Nikolas detailed to The A.V. Club the full history of her relationship with Milosh, the substance of which is the basis of the allegations stated in her recently filed civil complaint.
Nikolas says she first met Milosh virtually in 2008, when she was 16 years old and he was 33. After discovering his music, she says she messaged him on Myspace to ask if he was stopping in Los Angeles during his tour. “He messaged me back pretty quickly and asked for my phone number, which I was kind of taken aback by,” she recalls. “I gave him my phone number and within a few minutes he called me.” Nikolas says that Milosh knew she was underage, because they had talked about her friend Adam having to serve as her legal guardian while she was filming a TV adaptation of the Stephen King short story “Children Of The Corn” in Iowa. In that initial conversation, they talked about music, Nikolas’ life as a child actor, and where they lived. “It was a very benign conversation. But then there were just little hints of wanting to connect with me and wanting to see me after a show and possibly going to dinner, possibly having a beer together, and that’s where it started to feel more flirtatious,” says Nikolas. After the phone call, they exchanged email addresses and Milosh asked her to keep in touch.
The next day, Nikolas says she took a picture in the Amish-style wardrobe and fake pregnancy belly of her Children Of The Corn character and emailed it to Milosh. He responded, saying he was turned on. “I remember being totally taken aback,” Nikolas says. “I just sent that photo because it was kind of funny.” She didn’t remember him expressing his affection so blatantly until that moment.
She says they began to have frequent conversations via email, text, and Skype. During their video chats, Nikolas says, she undressed on camera for Milosh. He would ask her to pose in various sexual positions as he watched, but she noted that the musician didn’t expose himself at any moment while she was doing so.
In 2009, Milosh reached out to Nikolas, asking if he could stay with her and her mother in their L.A. home, but Nikolas says she opted to not respond to that request, taking a break from speaking to him for a month. “At the time, I was totally weirded out that he wanted to stay under my roof and I completely ignored him. My mom did not know about him trying to do that,” Nikolas says.
Milosh also told Nikolas repeatedly that he wanted to photograph her, hinting that he wanted to take nude pictures. Nikolas says she sent him a picture of herself in “lingerie-esque” clothing, to which he responded “This is very hot, very hot, we have to meet pronto” in an email. Nikolas says she got “really nervous” about the prospect of meeting up with Milosh because he was much older, fearing that he would be put off by how youthful she was. “Even though he knew my age, I felt like I might mess up and say something young or silly. And I also didn’t really know who he was,” she says. “So I kind of backed off from it.” But she says Milosh stayed persistent. He would message her on Facebook asking if she could stay with him in New York City, and he sent her an email in October 2009, with pictures he’d taken of nude women, as reference to how he wanted to photograph her.
When Nikolas turned 18 in the spring of 2010, Milosh reached out again, asking her to visit him in Berlin. She accepted the invitation, traveling to Berlin in June of that year. Being of legal age made her feel comfortable enough to meet him after two years of talking, she says. Milosh had assured Nikolas that it would be a platonic dynamic, because he was in a relationship at the time. But when they arrived at Milosh’s friend’s vacant apartment where they’d spend the night, Milosh made a romantic advance at Nikolas. She recalls taking a shower and putting on pajamas. After stepping out of the bathroom, Milosh asked her if she wanted to listen to a song he’d recently recorded, titled “Beauty.”
Nikolas says that Milosh put headphones on her, told her to lay on her back, and listen to the music. She followed his instructions as Milosh stared intensely. After she complimented the song, he asked her if she wanted to take off her pajamas. Nikolas told him she didn’t want to get physical with him because she was menstruating. But she says Milosh said he’d “had sex many times with women on their periods” and liked the taste of blood.
Nikolas recalls that at that point, without an excuse to not be physical with him, she allowed him to kiss her and take off her clothes. But she says Milosh’s behavior rapidly grew alarming: He slapped her across the face. “I remember being extremely startled by it and not knowing why he did that,” she says. “And then he leaned down and it looked like he was going to slap me again, but he gave me a kiss on my cheek.” She says Milosh then spat on his fingers and started to insert them into her anus without her consent. “I remember saying no because it hurt,” she says. “I was starting to cry very silently and he didn’t stop. He told me to trust him; it was a trust bond and that he would just do one thumb at a time and that eventually it would feel good.”
When Milosh fell asleep afterwards, Nikolas says she reached out to friends on Google Talk using the musician’s laptop. To one friend, Nikolas wrote, “I wanna go home. Now.” To another, she wrote, “I’m scared.”
“I started writing to all of my friends, telling them that I was scared and to reach out to me, hoping that somebody was around,” she says. “But then, halfway through the conversation, I was too scared to go into detail about what happened to me. And I started to think that maybe I was overreacting about the whole thing, but I at least wanted them to know that I was scared and that I felt unsafe. And that’s when one of my friends asked for the address because I didn’t even know the address of where I was at.”
Nikolas planned to leave in the morning, packing her bags and leaving the apartment while Milosh slept. Standing outside with her luggage, she contemplated what to do. Ultimately, she convinced herself that she was overreacting and should follow his lead because she was “so much younger than him” and he had more sexual experience. “[I thought] just because I don’t like [anal sexual intercourse with Milosh] now doesn’t mean I won’t like it later,” she says. Nikolas didn’t want Milosh to know she’d considered leaving, so she went to a store and returned to the apartment, telling him that since they didn’t have any eggs, she thought she’d buy some. She hid her suitcases so he wouldn’t see that she’d briefly left the apartment with them.
Nikolas says that she spent the next week with Milosh, and that he coerced her into anal sexual acts every day. According to Nikolas, the musician first used one thumb, then coerced her into letting him use two, ultimately attempting anal penetration. “It was nonstop. I swear to God I said ‘no’ so many times because it wasn’t even like a ‘no’ that’s like you think about it and then you say ‘no.’ You know, when you’re in pain, it’s ‘no.’ Like it’s just instinctual to say ‘no,’” Nikolas says.
After the trip, Milosh and Nikolas kept in contact romantically, though he was still in a relationship with another woman, whom he was living with. Milosh shared ideas for projects he wanted to film with Nikolas. One video he proposed involved having a knife go down Nikolas’ throat and enter her vagina. Another was a short film about their relationship. In an email, Milosh shared an instrumental piano song and wrote, “I would like to use it in the first sex scene that shows some sort of epiphany, an awakening into womanhood. I think it would be beautiful to have shots of your eyes staring into this new lovers [sic] eyes, this photographer who is invading… the sadness is in the simplicity that you will never be the same. Your childhood is gone…”
Their relationship became official when Milosh visited Nikolas in Los Angeles in January of 2011. She says he would travel back and forth from Berlin to L.A., ultimately moving in with her in October of that year. When they started living together, she says she began to see abusive patterns beyond sexual assault.
Nikolas, who’d been sexually assaulted by another person in between the trip to Berlin and the beginning of her relationship with Milosh, began having panic attacks caused by her PTSD. Nikolas recalls Milosh yelling at her during those panic attacks, saying, “It’s been 15 minutes that you’ve been talking about this. If you continue to talk about this, you’re going to end up being a loser when you’re an adult.” Nikolas says that beyond verbally chastising her, Milosh would also react in violent ways, punching the refrigerator and candles. And he would then apologize, saying, “I’m sorry, I love you so much,” claiming that he reacted that way because it hurt him to see her be anxious.
In early 2012, Milosh proposed to her. Nikolas now believes Milosh, a Canadian citizen, decided to get married in order to live and work in the United States. (In 2015, she discovered an email that says he’d be unable to tour the U.S. without a visa.) Within months of the proposal, the couple were wed at city hall in Van Nuys, California. None of Milosh’s family or friends were in attendance—just Nikolas’ mother and her friend Vanessa. Nikolas recalls Milosh did not want a wedding and didn’t get her a ring. “He just wanted to get married, make sure he had this Green Card,” she says. “But I was thinking that he just wanted to get married quickly so that he didn’t have to go back to Canada, and because when you live in a different country, you can only stay for three months at a time. I felt that was the case, that he was just wanting to spend more time with me and that’s why he was so quick to marry me.”
According to Nikolas, Milosh’s anger issues grew more severe after they eloped. She says that in one incident during their honeymoon in Barcelona, she threw a small pillow at him, and he charged at her with the pillow to smother her face. When Nikolas told Milosh that she did not want to have anal sex, he began withholding intimacy altogether. Nikolas recalls that if they got into a fight, the musician would withhold sex for a week, saying he “needed seven days to heal from the fight.” But if they got into a fight within that seven day grace period, it would be an additional week of denying her intimacy.
Nikolas alleged in her complaint that Milosh recorded her saying “no” in response to his attempts at anal penetration and added it to his album Jetlag, reversing the recording to sound like the word “on.” (She told The A.V. Club it can be heard throughout the song “Don’t Call It,” first as whispers and then as a distressed yelp at track’s end.) At the album’s release party, Nikolas says Milosh displayed images of her naked body as artwork, and that he boasted to attendees that the album featured the recordings of Nikolas and him engaging in anal sex. “It was just deeply uncomfortable. I even remember drinking alcohol to cope with it,” Nikolas says.
The photo of Nikolas’ naked body on the Jetlag cover was taken years prior, while she was intoxicated, she says. She alleges that Milosh did not disclose what he intended to use the images for, telling her instead that he wanted to test out some new equipment by doing a photoshoot based on a dream he had about a succubus. When Milosh asked permission to use the picture for the album, Nikolas says he coerced her into agreeing. “He was mansplaining to me why it made so much sense to use [the image] as the album artwork. That wasn’t what I knew [it would be used for] when we took those photos. But now all of a sudden it’s him taking the reins on it in a very different way,” recalls Nikolas.
Nikolas says Milosh had full financial control over her at this time. After he got a record deal, she gave up acting to focus on helping Milosh in his career and accompanying him on tour. “The rules really switched. Instead of him being like a very caring person, he was actually a very cheap person,” she says. “He used money as a means of control and a way to keep me and keep me afraid of leaving him.”
In 2014, Milosh emailed a man Nikolas was friends with who had developed feelings for her. Milosh shared the email with Nikolas beforehand, so she could see what he was going to send; he asked the man to stay away from Nikolas, saying that she’d be left in financial ruin if she decided to pursue a relationship with him. “I pay for everything, I pay her rent, I pay her car payments, I buy her food,” he wrote. “If I do come to the conclusion that she was encouraging your feelings, do you think my response to her is going to be super laid back and cool? If this breaks us up, this little play you are making, how do you think this is really going to play out for her…? Do you think she can afford to live in L.A. like she is?”
The catalyst for Nikolas asking for a divorce came after a violent incident with Milosh in which she recalls him lunging at her, throwing her onto the couch with his forearm on her neck and his other hand covering her mouth, shouting “Shut up” repeatedly. This occurred after an incident referenced in Nikolas’ open letter, where she had chastised Milosh for bragging about sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman with a friend in a Jacuzzi. “I did not want to be with him ever again after that experience. That’s when I told my therapist that I wanted her to be present in mediating the separation, because every time I would try to separate from him, I would feel I got caught up back into him,” Nikolas says.
Milosh did not accept Nikolas’ request for a separation, expressing his sadness over Nikolas deciding to leave their marriage. But Nikolas says that soon afterwards, it turned into “revenge time” on her. “He wanted to make my life a living hell and make me feel like I was nothing to him. That I didn’t even exist whatsoever. I couldn’t even send him a text message. I had to email his manager. I couldn’t even call him. I had to message his manager, his manager’s assistant. And that’s when that whole cycle of divorce was a nightmare.”
Nikolas alleged that during divorce proceedings, Milosh threatened her, saying she would end up in the streets if she got a lawyer. She says all communication about the divorce was conducted through Red Light Management, the company representing Milosh. With the difficulties involved in the proceedings, the divorce wasn’t finalized until 2019.
After Nikolas publicly detailed her experiences with Milosh in 2021, Katie, a Canadian woman who met the musician at a Rhye concert, contacted Nikolas about an incident with Milosh that occurred in September of 2019. (Out of concern for retaliation, we are referring to Katie by a pseudonym.) Katie told The A.V. Club that a friend who worked at the venue had posted on Facebook about having free tickets to the show, so she decided to attend with two other friends. She recalls drinking heavily beforehand, taking shots with one friend on an empty stomach. When they arrived at the venue, Katie’s other friend encouraged her to DM Milosh. The DM went unnoticed, so Katie introduced herself and her friends to Milosh after the show, and he invited them backstage.
Afterwards, Katie says, they decided to head to a bar. Katie’s friend Amanda—who was not in attendance at the show—crossed paths with the group and offered to drive them to the next location. Amanda confirmed to The A.V. Club that Katie and Milosh were in the backseat chatting during the ride. While at the bar, Katie recalls that her male friend wanted to set her up with Milosh, showing him pictures he took of her and telling him that she’s into “freaky stuff.” Katie blacked out shortly afterwards, and she says when she came to consciousness, she was naked and face down in Milosh’s hotel room, and he was entering her anally without wearing a condom. In a state of shock and confusion, Katie didn’t say anything. After Milosh was finished penetrating her, he began asking her questions about herself. Katie recalls that as she was leaving, Milosh said, “Don’t DM me at all about any of this, because someone else controls my Instagram.”
Another woman who reached out to Nikolas was Yen Kha, an ex-girlfriend of Milosh’s. Kha met Milosh in 2006 through the dating site Lavalife. Kha told The A.V. Club that her sexual relationship with Milosh was fully consensual, but she recalls seeing an emotionally manipulative side of him. He’d told her at the beginning of their relationship that he was “really good at getting people to do what [he] wants and [he] always gets [his] way.” She recalls seeing him be manipulative towards others, including people he considered friends. He also at times acted manipulatively around her. “I saw him as a really romantic, soft guy except when he got angry,” she says. “He was mean and bullyish a few times with me and that was it, but I was shocked because I’m like, this is not the guy that I know, this is the new other side of your personality I never seen before. I guess in my naïveté, I just kind of swept it under the rug.”
In her open letter, Nikolas details what Milosh alleged about his relationship with Kha: “Milosh told me a story about a woman he moved to Thailand with to record an album. He described her as crazy and out of control. He said once they returned to Toronto he wanted to break up with her and in response she hit his eye with a glass bottle.”
According to Kha, the situation was far different: She and Milosh were living in Toronto and Milosh decided to go to Thailand. The couple remained there for eight months, but Kha says that the relationship started falling apart because they weren’t connecting anymore. She also felt that he had been using her financially—she paid for everything, including “the clothes on his back, his underwear, dates, and anything travel.” During their last few months in Thailand, they mutually decided to break up.
When they were back in Toronto, Kha says she and Milosh continued to share an apartment, but agreed to never be there at the same time. She’d sleep at the apartment, and he would record music there during the day and spend the night at a friend’s. But Kha told The A.V. Club that she came home one night to find that Milosh was still in the apartment. “He was in a mood that day and we got into a fight,” she says. “I don’t remember what it was about, but it was very heated.” She remembers that Milosh threatened to pour water over her laptop with a plastic water bottle—not a glass bottle—and she grabbed it from him, sitting in front of her laptop, guarding it. According to Kha, Milosh came up behind her, trying to retrieve the bottle, and it became a tug of war between them. When he let go, she says the force of their tugging made her hand shoot back up, accidentally cutting his eye.
Kha recalls immediately apologizing and telling Milosh to go to the hospital; though he initially refused, he eventually went to the ER. Kha says they remained amicable afterward: Milosh later helped her move out of the apartment, and she left all the furniture there for him.
Nikolas first spoke out about Milosh’s actions on Instagram in 2018, asking him if he attempted to take down her interview with Verse because she mentioned first contacting him when she was 16. Nikolas told The A.V. Club Milosh sent her messages telling her she is “crazy.” She says Milosh’s girlfriend Geneviéve Medow-Jenkins also began harassing Nikolas on social media, and reached out to Nikolas’ fiancé’s sister and friends, telling them the actor is “mentally ill and needed to be put into a clinic.”
The women who spoke to The A.V. Club expressed fears of Milosh’s harassment. Kha was concerned about his vindictiveness, saying Milosh took nude pictures of her and she feared that by speaking out, he would retaliate with revenge porn.
But Nikolas sounds this note of resilience: “I decided to speak out so other survivors would know they are not alone,” she says. “I was groomed from the age of 16, with Milosh using his fame, power, age and authority to prey on me. This is a common story in the music industry. It feels like no one in the industry cares, takes it seriously, or takes any steps to stop it.
As a mother myself now, I couldn’t stand quietly by and let my daughter face the same risks, I could not allow the truth of my story to go unheard any longer. Whatever my daughter decides to do in life, I want her to be safe.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the contents of Nikolas’ open letter; while asking for Loma Vista Recording’s acknowledgement, she did not ask for the label to remove Rhye from its roster.
Out of concerns for privacy, we have also redacted the first names of the friends Nikolas contacted while in Berlin, and any direct quotes that mentioned those names.