Woody Allen slams child sex abuse allegations by adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow

Director calls accusations 'disgraceful' and 'untrue' after adopted daughter repeats claims he sexually attacked her when she was seven

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 4:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 7:13am

Legendary film director Woody Allen hit back on Sunday at his adopted daughter’s allegations of sexual abuse during her youth, calling them “untrue and disgraceful”.

Dylan Farrow broke her silence for the first time on Saturday on the alleged abuse, saying it started when she was as young as seven.

“He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me,” Farrow, 28, wrote in an open letter on a The New York Times blog.

The unproven allegations first emerged more than two decades ago in the aftermath of Allen’s acrimonious split with Mia Farrow in 1992.

“Mr Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful,” Allen’s publicist Leslee Dart said in a statement, adding that the director would be responding “very soon”.

Dart stressed that no charges were ever filed in the case and that an investigation by court-appointed independent experts at the time found no evidence of wrongdoing.

“The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation, that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow,” Dart said.

Allen, 78, who left Mia Farrow after starting a relationship with the actress’s adopted daughter from a previous marriage, Soon-Yi Previn, has always vigorously denied abusing Dylan Farrow.

A New York judge in the 1994 custody battle between Allen and Farrow ruled that the abuse allegations were inconclusive, but at the same time lambasted the director as “self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive”.

The younger Farrow accused the Hollywood establishment of sweeping Allen’s alleged crimes under the carpet by continuing to honour his films.

Dylan Farrow renewed allegations of child sex abuse against Allen, claiming the movie director sexually assaulted her after he and actress Mia Farrow adopted her.

Speaking out

In her open letter, Dylan Farrow said she was moved to speak out because of Hollywood's continued embrace of Allen.

In a Vanity Fair story published in October, Dylan Farrow also laid out details of what she said happened to her in the 1992 incident.

"That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up," wrote Farrow. "I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls."

The letter comes not long after Allen was honoured at the Golden Globes with the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. The New York Times reported that Allen declined to comment. He has long maintained his innocence.

In the letter, Dylan Farrow claimed that, at the family's Connecticut home, Allen led her to a "dim, closet-like attic" and "then he sexually assaulted me".

"He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me," wrote Farrow, now 28.

"He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we'd go to Paris and I'd be a star in his movies."

Farrow said Allen would have her get in bed with him, and at other times "place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out".

"For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn't like," said Farrow. "These things happened so often, so routinely, so skilfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal."

Farrow said she was speaking out because of Allen's recent accolades in Hollywood.

The 1992 allegation came shortly after Allen became involved with Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Allen was not the adoptive father of Previn, who was about 19 at the time. Allen was in his mid-50s. The two married in 1997 and have two adopted daughters. Mia Farrow and Allen soon ended their relationship.

During a subsequent custody battle, Farrow accused Allen of sexually molesting Dylan.

The allegations triggered a criminal inquiry by the Connecticut State Police.

An investigative team from the Yale-New Haven Hospital concluded, after a six-month inquiry, that Dylan had not been molested. Allen was never charged.

The handling of the investigation was criticised after Litchfield County state attorney Frank Maco said in a press conference there was "probable cause" to charge Allen, although he chose not to. A disciplinary panel found that Maco may have prejudiced the then-ongoing custody battle between Allen and Mia Farrow by making an accusation without formal charges.

Though many fans never forgave Allen for his romance with Previn, the director's career was largely uninterrupted.

He has continued to release a new film almost every year, with his latest, Blue Jasmine, earning three Academy Award nominations, including a screenwriting nomination for Allen.

Allen also received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at this year's Golden Globes ceremony.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, McClatchy-Tribune