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Here’s Woody Allen’s response to Dylan Farrow’s sexual abuse allegations

A new chapter in the disturbing family drama has unfolded.


Molly McHugh

Internet Culture

Last week, the media—more accurately, the world—was rocked by Dylan Farrow’s New York Times‘ story, accusing her adoptive father Woody Allen of sexual assault. Dylan is the daughter of Mia Farrow, who was married to Allen when Dylan was a child. According to her emotional open letter, Allen molested her at the age of 7. 

It’s actually quite an old story: It captivated the media back in 1992, when Allen originally had to defend himself against the allegations. Charges were never filed, although his subsequent relationship with Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi (now Allen’s wife) led to continued speculation. 

Part of what made Dylan’s open letter so controversial was that it’s the first time she’s publicly spoken about it, and she did so in no uncertain terms. 

Now a new chapter in the disturbing family drama has unfolded, as Allen has responded to last week’s story in a New York Times‘ editorial of his own.

“Twenty-one years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, 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. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.”

Allen has always insisted that Dylan’s story was one motivated and contrived by her mother, as their relationship was unraveling. 

“… Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined. Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested. Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story.” 

He also makes a point to include the conclusion the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital came to: 

“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… In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow. While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

The director goes on to discuss in much detail how the case played out and the scrutiny he and Soon-Yi were subject to, as well as how it tore their family apart. Allen says that because he began a relationship with Soon-Yi, Farrow used Dylan as revenge.

“I was heartbroken. Moses was angry with me. Ronan I didn’t know well because Mia would never let me get close to him from the moment he was born and Dylan, whom I adored and was very close to and about whom Mia called my sister in a rage and said, “He took my daughter, now I’ll take his.” I never saw her again nor was I able to speak with her no matter how hard I tried. I still loved her 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.” 

Allen also addresses the controversary regarding Ronan Farrow, who sides with his mother and is rumored to be the son of Frank Sinatra. He alludes to the question of “if someone allowed me to raise another man’s son as my own, what sort of integrity does she have?” 

Eventually, he gets to Dylan’s recent accusations, again intimating her mother is behind it all. 

“Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose 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. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, ‘With My Daddy in the Attic.’ It was on 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.’ One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.”

The back-and-forth between estranged father and daughter, in the height of Oscar season no less, is likely only to feed the media frenzy around this story, which refuses to die. Already, there is one criticism of Allen’s editorial: Nicholas Kristoff, who  published Dylan’s story last week, says that the director’s account is filled with statements that are “flat wrong” or “half-truths.” 

H/T @jorcohen/Twitter | Photo via by VasenkaPhotography/Flickr (CC By 2.0) 

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