Woody Allen denies Dylan Farrow’s sexual assault allegation

Posted at 7:13 AM, Feb 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-03 09:13:11-05

(CNN) — Film director Woody Allen released a statement Sunday denying adopted daughter Dylan Farrow’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her when she was 7 years old.

In an open letter posted online Saturday by The New York Times, Farrow recounted her allegation that Allen sexually assaulted her in the attic of her adopted mother Mia Farrow’s house in 1992.

The statement released by Allen representative Leslee Dart said: “Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He will be responding very soon. In the meantime, it is essential that your coverage make the following facts clear:

“At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts. 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. No charges were ever filed.”

Dylan Farrow’s open letter appeared on Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s blog. It was billed as the first time she’s publicly written about the accusation.

“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house.

“He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”

The letter was released the same day as the Writers Guild Awards, for which Allen had been nominated for best screenplay for “Blue Jasmine” but did not win. The movie also garnered three Academy Award nominations.

In 1992, in the wake of an affair between Allen and Soon-Yi Previn — Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter with composer Andre Previn — Farrow accused the filmmaker of molesting Dylan. About a week later, Allen filed for custody of his three children with Farrow — Moses and Dylan, who were adopted, and Satchel, their biological son, who now goes by Ronan Farrow.

“A team of investigators from Yale-New Haven Hospital that was retained by the Connecticut State Police subsequently concluded Dylan had not been abused,” according to an account in the Times, which covered the custody proceedings.

Acting Justice Elliott Wilk of New York’s State Supreme Court “said it was unlikely that Mr. Allen could be prosecuted for sexual abuse based on the evidence,” the newspaper reported. “But while a team of experts concluded that Dylan was not abused, the judge said he found the evidence inconclusive.”

A former prosecutor who decided against pressing charges in the case declined to comment on the details in Dylan Farrow’s letter Sunday.

“As a prosecutor I really can’t comment on the substance of the statement of this now young woman. As a father of a child not too much older than this young woman, I can only say I hope she finds some peace and solace in the way she’s expressing herself,” former Connecticut State’s Attorney Frank Maco said. “I hope she had access to my written statement of decision. My statement is as valid today as it was 20 years ago.”

In 1993, Maco — who’s since retired — told reporters he believed there was probable cause to arrest Allen. But he said he decided not to press charges, with Mia Farrow’s support, “rather than exposing the child to possible harm.”

At the time, Allen lashed out at authorities who handled the case and accused prosecutors of scheming to keep it open to influence his custody battle.

Allegations raised again in recent months

Even as the decades passed, the scandal permanently damaged Allen’s image — that of a neurotic but amusing schlub with a talent for slapstick and witty one-liners. He denied the accusations from Dylan and said his relationship with Farrow, which had been painted storybook colors by the press, was not actually all that strong.

He did marry Soon-Yi Previn in 1997, and after the marriage came a slightly more public Woody Allen. The couple were the focus of a 1997 Barbara Kopple documentary, “Wild Man Blues,” which portrayed a generally happy pair. Allen was also the subject of a 2011 Robert Weide film, “Woody Allen: A Documentary,” which briskly addressed Farrow’s allegations from Allen’s point of view.

However, the scandal has always been near the surface, and the open letter in The New York Times is one of a number of instances in recent months where the allegation has been raised.

In a November Vanity Fair article, Allen was condemned by Mia Farrow’s children, especially Dylan.

After that article’s publication, a representative for Allen told CNN, “The article is so fictitious and extravagantly absurd that he is not going to comment.”

Last month, as Allen was honored with a lifetime achievement award during the Golden Globes, Ronan Farrow, now estranged from his father, took to Twitter and referenced the allegation: “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?”

And now comes the open letter, where Dylan Farrow recounts not only the alleged abuse, but what she says happened to her in the aftermath.

“Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up,” she wrote. “I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.”

Celebrities accused of ‘turning a blind eye’

She also admonished some of Hollywood’s most celebrated, mostly women, by name for “turning a blind eye” and for continuing to work with Allen.

CNN reached out to the stars that Dylan Farrow challenged by name in her letter but has not yet received responses.

In a series of Twitter posts Sunday, actor Alec Baldwin — who starred in “Blue Jasmine” — fired back at people asking him to respond to the allegations.

“You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family’s issue,” he wrote.

In another post, he slammed someone who asked whether he owed Dylan Farrow an apology: “What the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family’s personal struggle?”

No matter how celebrities respond, the letter is likely to fuel significant media coverage, said Dan Abrams, ABC News’ chief legal affairs anchor.

“This letter is so detailed and so powerful that I think that wherever Woody Allen goes for the next period of months, he’s going to be asked about this, he’s going to be questioned about it, he’s going to be challenged about it,” Abrams told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday. “But I think that as a news story, it’s not going to fundamentally change, because we’ve known this was her position. It’s the power of the details that she’s presenting that I think change this.”

CNN’s Carolyn Sung, Todd Leopold, Sarah Edwards, Michelle Hall, Nischelle Turner and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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