Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who's Telling the Truth?

Woody Allen
Off and on last week I ran into media coverage about Dylan Farrow's allegations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen.  These were not new allegations.  Dylan (and her mother, Mia) had made them when Dylan was a young girl.  Now she's in her late 20's, an adult woman, who is insisting that she is telling the truth about Allen's behavior toward her as a young girl.  Allen, of course, blames Mia for the allegations, and insists that he did nothing wrong.  Who's telling the truth?

I sat down and read through all the recent documents in the media: Dylan Farrow's open letter, an overview article at cnn.com, Woody Allen's response to Dylan, Dylan's rebuttal to Allen's response, and an overview of the 33-page legal decision from the New York Supreme Court from 1993 regarding the Allen-Farrow custody case.  The last document was the most helpful in understanding what Woody Allen's relationship was to Mia Farrow, to her children, and to his children with her.  He adopted two of her children as his own, and had one biological child with her.  All are still alive and prospering adults with their own lives.  Only Moses, Allen's oldest adopted child with Farrow, has regular contact with Allen.

The first "wow" -- the court documents describe Allen's relationship with Farrow as "virtually a single person's relationship," viewed her children as "an encumbrance," and had no interest in the children.  They lived separately, on opposite sides of Manhattan.  In 1984, Farrow wanted to have a child with Allen but he wasn't wild about the idea, and agreed only after Farrow promised the child would live with her and Allen wouldn't need to be involved with child care or upbringing.  I remember when this custody case was in the news back in 1992-93, and also remember hearing about Allen's disinterest in the children.  At the time, I thought it made sense because he was so self-absorbed and narcissistic.  He wouldn't want anything to interfere with his life and work, or his time.  When Farrow finally became pregnant, after adopting Dylan, Allen took no interest in her pregnancy or his impending fatherhood.

The court documents lay out the history of Allen's inappropriate behavior toward Dylan, beginning when she was 2 or 3 years old, and the number of people who observed it, told Farrow, or Farrow herself telling nannies or others to not allow Allen to be alone with Dylan.  Farrow even confronted Allen about his sexual behavior toward Dylan.  Wow.  She confronted him.  So based on the court documents, Allen developed a sexual interest in Dylan when she was about 2 or 3 years old, and established a pattern of behavior that was inappropriate.

Then...Allen also takes an interest in Farrow's adopted daughter with Andre Previn, Soon-Yi Previn.  That began innocently enough.  Soon-Yi asked Allen if she could go to some Knicks basketball games in 1990.  According to the court documents, at some point in 1991, the relationship became sexual.  This was at the same time that Allen was allegedly sexually abusing Dylan Farrow.  At no time did any of the witnesses or Farrow praise Allen for his parenting skills, being a good father, or a responsible adult, all of which would have been expected of him if he was around Farrow's kids a lot which he was.  In fact, he decided to adopt Moses and Dylan and did so in December 1991.

In January 1992, Farrow found nude photos of Soon-Yi in Allen's apartment.  OK.  If you were Soon-Yi's mother, how would you have reacted to that discovery?  She was angry.  I would have seen it as a gross abuse of Allen's parental/adult power over Soon-Yi, no matter how old she was at the time.  Then in August of that same year, people at Farrow's home while Allen also was there witnessed Allen's inappropriate and sexual behavior toward Dylan.  Farrow, on the advise of her attorney, took Dylan to a pediatrician who then reported the abuse to law enforcement.

According to the court documents, the subsequent investigation was somewhat marred by investigators being star-struck or influenced by Allen's power and celebrity.  Notes for a report were destroyed that should have been available to the court.  The report found no basis for the sexual abuse charges, and yet from Dylan Farrow's and her mother's testimony, there had been sexual abuse.  Allen denied the allegations in 1992 and continues to deny them to this day, claiming that they are a result of Mia Farrow being a woman scorned and wanting revenge against him.

Dylan Farrow now (Credit: Frances Silver)

In fact, Allen's response to Dylan Farrow's letter is paragraph after paragraph of attacks against Mia Farrow.  He shows no remorse for the effect their contentiousness may have had on Dylan (or the other children), and he distorts what happened during the investigation in 1992.  It's all about his pain and suffering because of Mia Farrow's hatred of him.  And that the Judge who issued the Supreme Court decision was also against him, didn't like Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi.

Who's telling the truth?  I urge you, before you answer that question, to read all the documents for yourself.  Think about it.  Just because Woody Allen is a world famous film director, winner of numerous awards for his work, doesn't mean he can't have a dark side.  Fame sometimes offers the famous a convenient wall to hide behind and indulge their dark sides.  Who'd believe someone saying that the famous aren't all goodness and light?  Woody Allen was never prosecuted for allegedly sexually abusing Dylan Farrow.  Why?  The Connecticut State Attorney (the abuse occurred in Connecticut) said that there was probable cause to arrest Allen.  But...Mia Farrow decided against pressing charges in order to protect her daughter from Woody Allen during a trial.

Mia Farrow (from sv.wikipedia.org)

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