The film director Woody Allen has emerged to strongly defend himself against accusations of child abuse—and to blast Mia Farrow, his former partner, with nearly every counter-allegation imaginable: from “indoctrinating” their adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, with the idea that he had molested her to carrying on an affair with Frank Sinatra while Farrow and Allen were a supposedly happy couple.
In an angry New York Times article, Allen attacks Farrow’s “shabby agenda… to hurt me with a smear.” Allen, 78, writes, “I did not molest Dylan. I loved her and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter’s well-being.”
He writes that he hopes one day to have a “loving, productive” relationship with her.
Allen’s intervention followed 28-year-old’s Dylan’s searing, recent open letter in the New York Times, claiming he had sexually abused her when she was seven.
Allen’s New York Times broadside brings a family already at very public war into even greater, bruising focus. Allen writes that he doesn’t doubt that Dylan has “come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root?”
The filmmaker also asks whether Dylan’s open letter documenting the abuse was written by her, “or was it at least guided by her mother?”
“No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out," Allen writes, “but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing.”
Allen’s anger isn’t reserved in rejecting the child molestation charges. He attacks other aspects of Mia Farrow’s character. He accuses her of double standards, in finding his relationship with her adopted daughter (now his wife of seventeen years) Soon-Yi “improper,” when Soon-Yi was in her early 20s, “despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19.”
The Blue Jasmine director also addresses the rumor Ronan Farrow is not his son, stoked by Farrow himself. “Is he my son or, as Mia suggests, Frank Sinatra’s? Granted, he looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features, but if so what does this say? That all during the custody hearing Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son? Even if he is not Frank’s, the possibility she raises that he could be, indicates she was secretly intimate with him during our years. Not to mention all the money I paid for child support. Was I supporting Frank’s son? ... I want to call attention to the integrity and honesty of a person who conducts her life like that.”
Allen writes he first heard that Farrow was accusing him of molesting Dylan twenty-one years ago. “I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought. We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy. The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself.”
Allen says he thought the accusation “would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail. After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct.”
Dylan, Allen says, had told a doctor she had not been abused and then changed that story after Farrow had bought her an ice cream. While he consented to take a lie detector test, Farrow did not. Farrow, he claims, also tried, and failed to persuade, an ex-girlfriend of his, Stacey Nelkin, to testify she had been underage when they were dating which was untrue, according to Allen.
The director quotes the findings of the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital, who investigated the case. “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992.”
The experts, Allen writes, concluded that it was “more likely” that Dylan’s allegations of abuse came from a combination of two things—“an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family,” and also that she had been “coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow.”
Allen also zeroes in on the judge who awarded custody of Allen and Farrow’s children to Farrow for saying “we will probably never know what occurred” of Dylan’s alleged molestation, because—Allen says—it had been determined no abuse had taken place.
Allen scorns the location Farrow claimed the abuse took place in—the attic of her country house—“a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out.”
The comedian says, without supplying any evidence, that the attic idea “undoubtedly” came from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic,” or as he pointedly puts it, “the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, 'Beware of Young Girls.'"
The judge was suspicious, says Allen, because he felt the director, as a much older man, was “exploiting Soon-Yi, “but despite what it looked like our feelings were authentic and we’ve been happily married for 16 years with two great kids, both adopted.” The “media circus and false accusations” meant he and Soon-Yi “were extra carefully scrutinized by both the adoption agency and adoption courts,” Allen adds.
However, Allen’s defense was itself shredded on the same day as it was published by Vanity Fair journalist Maureen Orth, under the headline: “10 Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation.” Orth’s charges include Allen had been in therapy for alleged inappropriate behavior toward Dylan with a child psychologist before the abuse allegation was presented to the authorities or made public; and that the judge found that Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was “grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”
In The New York Times, Allen says he “still loved her (Dylan) deeply, and felt guilty that by falling in love with Soon-Yi I had put her in the position of being used as a pawn for revenge. Soon-Yi and I made countless attempts to see Dylan but Mia blocked them all, spitefully knowing how much we both loved her but totally indifferent to the pain and damage she was causing the little girl merely to appease her own vindictiveness.”
Allen claims that Dylan has been “taught” to hate him and made to believe he molested her, which has “taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman.” Both he and Soon-Yi hope one day “she will understand who has really made her a victim and reconnect with us, as Moses has, in a loving, productive way.”
Allen’s New York Times intervention follows a frenzied few weeks of public charge and counter-charge. Ronan Farrow tweeted during the Golden Globes, as Allen was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: “Missed the Woody Allen tribute—did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?” Next, Allen’s friend Robert Weide wrote a controversial piece defending him in The Daily Beast, after which Dylan’s piece claiming the abuse had taken place appeared. On Tuesday, Farrow tweeted her support of Dylan: “I love my daughter. I will always protect her. A lot of ugliness is going to be aimed at me. But this is not about me, it's about her truth.”In his New York Times article, Allen quotes Moses, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Allen, noting Moses is now 36 and a family therapist, again quotes him: “Of course Woody did not molest my sister. She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.”Allen also wonders, “Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?”Dylan herself on Thursday gave an interview to People magazine, claiming, “My intention in writing that (New York Times) piece was to put the truth on paper from a voice that was not able to speak before… I knew there were people saying I was a liar and that this was part of some smear campaign—some bitter vendetta of my mother’s. I didn’t realize that it was going to be a betrayal of this magnitude.”Of Moses’s support of Allen, Dylan said, “My brother has broken my heart. Moses divorced himself from the family a long time ago. I always missed him. I loved him and I kept him in my thoughts. These lies—this betrayal—is unfathomable to me coming from a brother I loved and cherished and grew up with.”Allen, for his part, concludes that his New York Times article will be his “final word” on the matter, “and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.” But given the volley of claim and counterclaim, it seems unlikely that this will, in fact, be the final exchange.