Woody Allen Responds to Child Sexual Abuse Claims
Robert Franklin, Esq.
February 9, 2014
Since I’ve spent the past few days posting about the case of Jane Doe vs. John Roe in which the mother insisted on claiming the father sexually molested their child, it’s been harder than it might otherwise have been to ignore the insistent whoop-di-do about Woody Allen. As the whole world and numerous planets, some in a galaxy far, far away already know, Allen’s daughter Dylan, now 28 recently renewed her allegations that the director had sexually abused her when she was seven. It seems she and her mother, Mia Farrow, couldn’t resist using Allen’s receipt of awards at the Golden Globe ceremony to once again publicize the claims. This followed an article in Vanity Fair and a piece by Nicolas Kristof in the New York Times that reprised the allegations. More recently still, Robert Weide discussed the matter at length here (Daily Beast, 1/27/14) and Allen rebutted the claims here (New York Times, 2/9/14).
Having now been pulled into the vortex of media coverage, I must say that early on, I noticed something that jumped out at me but that has drawn scant attention from anyone but (understandably) Allen. Farrow recently said that she’s never been certain whether one of her sons, Ronan, was Allen’s child or Frank Sinatra’s. In other words, Farrow either has been committing paternity fraud for the past 20 years or has been attempting to. At this point, no one seems to know whose DNA Ronan carries, but Allen points out that he has the blue eyes of “Old Blue Eyes” and his facial features.
What we know for certain is that, although never married to Allen, Farrow was having sex on the side with Sinatra while she and Allen were supposedly an item. Far more importantly, it means she lied repeatedly under oath during their child custody case when she said Ronan was Allen’s child. Clearly she couldn’t have known whether that was true of false, but, instead of saying she wasn’t certain, she said unequivocally that the boy was Allen’s. And of course Allen paid child support for many years for Ronan based on Farrow’s careful exclusion of the truth from her testimony.
We also know that Sinatra was married at the time. And finally we know that, back in the 70s, Farrow had had sex with conductor Andre Previn who was also married. She became pregnant from that liaison too and the news sent Previn’s wife Dory into a psychological breakdown that resulted in electroshock therapy.
In short, whether successful or not, it was Farrow’s intention, back in 1992, to defraud both Allen and Sinatra. Only Ronan’s DNA will tell us whether she succeeded or not. If she did, as in all paternity fraud cases, her action was a malicious attack on both men with the child as “collateral damage.” Allen paid for (but was never allowed to see) a child who he believed to be his but wasn’t. Sinatra never got to be a father to his son. And Ronan now wonders about his parentage and the potential for medical problems stemming from that ignorance.
What I find fascinating is, despite the extremely high-profile nature of this case, how little anyone cares about the paternity fraud side of it. For herself, Farrow seems to have had not the least compunction about publicizing her affair with Sinatra and the fact of her fraud on both men. It’s as if she knew full well that no one would make much of it. Paternity fraud? What’s the problem with that?
Did Allen sexually abuse his daughter Dylan during a brief visit to Farrow’s house in Connecticut on August 4, 1992? No one but Allen and Dylan will ever know for certain. Allen vehemently denies it; Dylan says it’s true. But the rest of us, on the outside looking in, have to look at the facts as they’ve been painstakingly developed during the investigation of the case and after, and draw our own conclusions. When we do that, it’s pretty hard to see the allegations as anything but false claims designed, as they so often are, to gain an advantage in a child custody case.
Woody Allen and Mia Farrow never married, but dated for 12 years. During none of that time did Farrow claim to anyone that Allen was molesting any of her/their children. She made no complaints about him at all. They had either three or two children together depending on who Ronan’s father is. Previously, Farrow and Previn had adopted a daughter, Soon-Yi. When Soon-Yi was either 19 or 21, she and Allen began a sexual relationship that resulted in the breakup of Allen and Farrow, their acrimonious custody battle, Allen’s now 16-year marriage to Soon-Yi and eventually their adoption of two children.
Immediately after news of Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi came out, an enraged Farrow broke off their relationship raising the issue of child custody of their sons Moses and Ronan (maybe) and daughter Dylan. Four months after the news broke, Allen came to visit his kids at Farrow’s house in Connecticut. Farrow of course was there along with some half-dozen of her friends who were none too friendly toward Allen. That was August 4, 1992. Farrow claimed Allen took Dylan up into the attic of the house and molested her. Here’s Allen’s perspective on the matter:
I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct. Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely.
Not only that, but a nanny for the children who was there that day, Kristie Groteke reported “that she felt guilty allowing Ms. Farrow to say those things about Mr. Allen. (Groteke) said the day Mr. Allen spent with the kids, she did not have Dylan out of her sight for longer than five minutes.”
Nevertheless, Farrow soon was claiming child abuse. She made a videotape of Dylan that had many stops and starts as if she were pausing to coach the child. Another nanny, Monica Thompson watched the process and later testified under oath.
“I know that the tape was made over the course of at least two and perhaps three days. I recall Ms. Farrow saying to Dylan at that time, ‘Dylan, what did daddy do… and what did he do next?’ Dylan appeared not to be interested, and Ms. Farrow would stop taping for a while and then continue.”
Of course when child sexual abuse allegations are leveled, courts and district attorneys don’t stand idly by. So the whole thing was investigated thoroughly and it was determined that (a) no sexual abuse had occurred and (b) Dylan was either upset about the breakup of her dad and mom and made up the allegations, was coached by Farrow into making them or both.
Among other things, Farrow brought the child to a doctor to whom the girl denied being abused. Farrow then took her daughter for an ice cream and, back at the doctor’s office, Dylan had a completely different story to tell.
Interestingly, Dylan was examined later by the same organization that played the same key role in the Doe vs. Roe case, the Yale Sexual Abuse Clinic. In Allen’s case, Dr. John Leventhal headed the Yale team.
Leventhal further swears Dylan’s statements at the hospital contradicted each other as well as the story she told on the videotape. “Those were not minor inconsistencies. She told us initially that she hadn’t been touched in the vaginal area, and she then told us that she had, then she told us that she hadn’t.” He also said the child’s accounts had “a rehearsed quality.” At one point, she told him, “I like to cheat on my stories.” The sworn statement further concludes: “Even before the claim of abuse was made last August, the view of Mr. Allen as an evil and awful and terrible man permeated the household. The view that he had molested Soon-Yi and was a potential molester of Dylan permeated the household… It’s quite possible — as a matter of fact, we think it’s medically probable — that (Dylan) stuck to that story over time because of the intense relationship she had with her mother.” Leventhal further notes it was “very striking” that each time Dylan spoke of the abuse, she coupled it with “one, her father’s relationship with Soon-Yi, and two, the fact that it was her poor mother, her poor mother,” who had lost a career in Mr. Allen’s films.
Strongly underpinning the lack of sexual abuse by Allen is the fact that the director volunteered to take a lie detector test which he passed. Farrow, by contrast, declined to do so. Into the bargain, Farrow tried to strong-arm at least two witnesses, one of whom was employed by her, to support the claim of abuse. Both refused. In so doing, Farrow stepped close to the line of attempting to suborn perjury, a criminal offense. Faced with the utter lack of evidence of abuse and the strong probability of coaching by Farrow, the district attorney brought no charges against Allen.
The judge presiding in the child custody case was not so scrupulous. Apparently ignoring what all the objective evidence indicated, Judge Thaddeus Wilk gave sole custody to Farrow who, during the entire remainder of the children’s lives as minors, refused Allen any contact with them. An interesting aside is that Farrow continued to adopt children, eventually having a total of 16. One of them she thoughtfully named Thaddeus Wilk Farrow.
It turns out that our evidence of coaching of children, motivated by Farrow’s malice toward Allen doesn’t stop there. Her and Allen’s oldest child, Moses, was, for many years, every bit as estranged from his father as were the younger Ronan and Dylan. After all, as a child in Farrow’s household, what choice did he have? But later on, that changed. Moses has spoken out about life with Farrow since her public split with Allen.
“My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old and a family therapist by profession. “Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he said. “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.” Dylan was 7, Ronan 4, and this was, according to Moses, the steady narrative year after year.
“Knowing that my mother often used us as pawns, I cannot trust anything that is said or written from anyone in the family.”
Of course it is Dylan, now 28, making the claims, not Farrow, although she’s clearly happy to ride along. We know that Farrow is a serial liar and cheater who cares little about whom she damages in the process. (When she revealed that Ronan’s dad may be Sinatra, it must have come as quite a surprise to his wife who’s still living.) But none of that is true of Dylan.
Still, this case has the reek of too many others for me to ignore. It’s redolent of child abuse, not by Allen, but by Farrow. (Read the Allen and Weide articles and then reread the judge’s memorandum in Doe vs. Roe. The similarities are astonishing.) She was furious about Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi and determined to exact revenge, a fact she explicitly stated to Allen’s sister. She did so by twisting a little girl’s arm to level false accusations of the worst sort at the man who’d jilted her. She did so for the explicit purpose of removing a child’s loving father from her life forever, an endeavor that succeeded.
Everyone understands the anger that comes from being betrayed, but, unless all the facts about this case are wrong, it was Farrow who abused her children, not Allen. She allowed her rage over his relationship with Soon-Yi to keep those kids from their father who loved them. She allowed that rage to fester to this very day, requiring that they agree that Allen is the monster Farrow’s injured heart and pride demanded him to be. That removal of a loving father and that distortion of reality forced on children not mentally mature enough to see it for what it is constitute child abuse.
As Moses said, year after year, it was the same thing in the Farrow household: “Woody Allen is the devil incarnate.” For at least the next 11 years of her life, Dylan lived with one parent – Mia Farrow. Is it any wonder she adopted the narrative her mother – her only parent – expected of her? At a time in Dylan’s life when her world had turned upside down and all of a sudden she was seeing nothing of her father, the child needed someone to cling to for support and stability. Farrow was the only possibility, the only parent left to her. Her allegiance to her mother existed anyway, but under those dire circumstances, it could only have been strengthened.
And strong it’s remained. Moses had the same pressure and adopted the same antipathy for Allen, but, perhaps because he was significantly more mature when the breakup occurred, has figured out the ugly truth. Is anyone listening to him?