The Most Important Responses To Dylan Farrow’s Sexual Abuse Allegations, Including Woody Allen’s

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Woody Allen departs Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas' wedding ceremony at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral on June 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

I have been thinking a lot about Dylan Farrow‘s open letter about Woody Allen. Since becoming aware of Farrow’s allegations of sexual abuse against Allen, I haven’t been able to look at him the same way. I do not watch his movies, I can’t talk about him in a positive way, and I got angry during the Golden Globes. Here’s the most painful, horrifying excerpt of Farrow’s letter:

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. 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. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

The rest of the piece is just as difficult to read, but if you can, you should. First of all, here is how Woody Allen himself responded–well, how his attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, responded to Mother Jones:

It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.

Then, how Allen’s publicist Leslee Dart responded yesterday, also to Mother Jones:

Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He will be responding very soon…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.

“No charges were ever filed” will never be an argument against allegations. No charges were ever filed in so, so many rape cases no matter how much “credible evidence” there was; in so many others, even when charges were filed and there was DNA, perpetrators have been let go with nothing more than probation, if that.

So, who in Hollywood supports Farrow? Lena Dunham, for one:


Comedian Jenny Johnson went blunt with her comments:


ESPN writer Jane McManus voiced a perfect summation of how many of us who grew up loving Allen’s films feel:

And writer Jack Moore (he does @SeinfeldToday, which you should follow) questioned how the same people who were revolted by the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal could possibly stand behind Woody Allen right now. They are presumably the same folks who critique Chris Brown‘s behavior but think Roman Polanski is a standup guy because he made some good movies.

The way people responded was equally as important as the way people did not respond. People who have made films with Allen recently, for example, have remained silent: Cate BlanchettScarlett JohanssonLouis C.K.Alec Baldwin, all three of whom were in Blue Jasmine but none have spoken up (to my knowledge) regarding Farrow’s letter, though in it, she asked, “What if it were you?” and “What if it had been your child?”

One of my favorite pieces I read on the topic all day was “Woody Allen’s Good Name” by Aaron Bady, which not only argues for observers and fans to lend Farrow the same credibility they offer Allen, but also the idea that it is okay to say “probably.” An excerpt:

I think Woody Allen probably did it, though, of course, I could be wrong. But it’s okay if I’m wrong. For two reasons. First, because my opinion is not attached to a juridical apparatus—because I have not been empowered by jails and electric chairs and states of exception to destroy people’s lives—it isn’t necessary for me to err heavily on the side of “we need to be really fucking sure that the accused did it.”

The second reason it’s okay if I’m wrong is that I’m probably not wrong. It’s much more likely that I’m right. Because I am not on Woody Allen’s jury, I can be swayed by the fact that sexual violence is incredibly, horrifically common, much more common than it is for women to make up stories about sexual violence in pursuit of their own petty, vindictive need to destroy a great man’s reputation.

Rather than stating “yes, he did it” or “we can’t ever know what truly happened,” you are allowed to say, “Yes, I think this probably happened.” By having a strong opinion, you are not putting him in jail–indeed, at this point, I can’t imagine anything could put him in jail–but you are empowering Farrow’s words.

Yesterday, writer Mal Harris tweeted this:

It is true. It is so true. As a side note, the interesting (well, semi-interesting, I suppose) thing about Harris and Bady is that both are men. (They are both also from the blog The New Inquiry which I am now pretty thrilled about.) While there are obviously men who tend to condescend and patronize when talking about rape culture, these are just normal human beings being humanly empathetic. In Bady’s piece, for example, there wasn’t the same manplaining, here-ladies-I-know-whatcha-gotta-do attitude that pervades so much of male-driven conversation regarding rape culture, violence against women, and misogyny. It offers some of the easiest advice for what “normal” people can do for rape survivors: believe us.

I believe Dylan Farrow, for the record, not that I can do much about it. I’m not saying I can prove it, nor am I saying I am definitively correct, but every time somebody utters the whole  ”she’s just trying to get attention” or “her mom told her to” or “she wants to bring down a good man” or any other bullshit unfounded accusation back to her, my reasoning deepens. Do these people realize what kind of attention comes from accusing somebody of rape? It is nearly never remotely positive; it consistently includes people calling you a slut, a liar, a bitch, an attention whore, a gold digger.

When women accuse famous, wealthy, beloved men of rape, people do not respond with flowers and cuddles and hugs. Nowadays especially, the public figuratively crucifies the victim while friends, family and business links come out to publicly support the accused, often while insulting the integrity of the accuser. Lying about rape is not something nearly anybody does (though on the extremely rare occasion it does happen, MRA sites are all about it because they think it “proves” rape statistics must be wrong).

So, how will you respond? If you believe Farrow, I hope you will do something that is small but significant. If somebody you know still cites Woody Allen as a great director, perhaps explain the allegations (if they have not heard of them somehow) or just explain why glorifying somebody who was accused by his former stepchild of molestation is perhaps not the best use of their positive words. Don’t let it be brushed off. It’s just as important as if she were still seven years old and were accusing him then. Don’t let this conversation slip away.

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    • Misenhammer

      Poor Dylan Farrow. For me, knowing my mom suffered similar abuse, knowing that she got a chance to confront her abuser and set things as right as they could be in the privacy of home and family… Well, I can’t imagine how hard this must be for Dylan, especially in the spotlight.

      I’m so glad other prominent celebrities are speaking out against Woody. I feel ashamed for having liked his films. I feel ashamed and sad for the little bit of me that could almost still want to watch them. Same with Polanski. But I refuse to give in and watch or praise them ever again. It’s not much, but if we all do it, maybe he will finally be forced to confront his own, much greater shame, as he deserves.

    • JLH1986

      Per Frances Locke’s piece on Mommyish: That’s the court’s response with Allen attempted to fight for custody…

    • adamfox

      Love that you say “don’t let this conversation slip away”. Ultimately that’s the biggest hurdle, it is something that deserves to be debated and shaken until something resembling the truth or a new perspective comes to light.

    • jamiepeck

      I’m on the fence about this myself, but it’s very possible that in this one fucked up and statistically rare incident, the mother coached the kid to say some stuff that she then ended up believing for the rest of her life. The Daily Beast article presents some strong evidence in Woody’s favor, if you haven’t read it:

      • Kelly

        How sad that you don’t have memories of age seven. Most of us do. Dylan Farrow is totally normal and healthy for remembering things that happened to her at age seven.

        This isn’t a two or three year old who was coached and ended up believing it. She’s a grown woman who remembers what happened to her. The article you linked is nothing but victim shaming and hollow rationalizations.

      • Samantha Escobar

        I know what you mean–there are exceptions to everything. But I do believe that in this case, an adult woman recalled specific experiences from her childhood and wrote about it. I don’t think she’s guilty of lying, nor that her mom coached her. A lot of Weide’s points are ones that could be easily explained with reason (ex.: pauses in testimony could be explained in the idea that 7-year-olds get easily stressed, off-point and frustrated, particularly when talking about unpleasant topics; also, the “there’s no hard evidence like DNA” argument, which could easily be explained by the fact that children do not exactly understand DNA, nor note to collect it post-rape).

        Plus, I have a hard time not viewing Bob Weide as deeply biased when it comes to discussing Woody Allen. His entire piece is dripping with admiration, and it is in his best interest to continue advocating for what his documentary leaned people toward originally (though that is beside the point, I guess, since most of us rarely change our opinions once they’re made).

      • Stephenesque

        Were the members of the medical team that investigated the claims biased too?

      • jamiepeck

        I thought that the Daily Beast article was fairly well-reasoned and did not blame Dylan at all. But then I read something well-reasoned from the other side and it changes my mind. This keeps happening.

    • Aware101

      In the days of severe personality disorders and mental illness among young women, I’d rather err on the side of preserving this man’s dignity. If there is no justification to bring him to court, there is no justification in trying to destroy his reputation through this 3rd class media. If he were a good looking guy, and didn’t physically fit a stereotype, I doubt this would ever be passed around FB.

      JUST because someone accuses someone of something, DOES NOT make it fact. Period. This article is nothing but social assault on Woody Allen.

      • Samantha Escobar

        On the note of the last section of your first paragraph–you apparently did not see my Paul Walker article, then.

      • Alicia Kiner

        Because it’s beyond the scope of possibilities that maybe the 7 year old child was telling the truth AND there be no proof by the time she went to the police?

      • Benita

        Not all sexual abuse is penetrative, so the fact that there was no physical proof of abuse doesn’t hold much water.

      • Alicia Kiner

        Exactly!!! Unfortunately my sarcasm didn’t quite come through as much as I thought. I sometimes forget people can’t see my eyes following as I type ;)

      • Kelly

        Oh, right, mental illness and personality disorders are a female problem…

        Of course, men never do anything wrong. Anytime some stupid, crazy woman cries rape, it’s just because she’s stupid and crazy.

        You make me fucking sick.

      • Alicia Kiner

        Yeah I caught that too. Mental illness is now only a “female” problem. Did we go back in time 100 years when I wasn’t looking? Clearly, only women go crazy. But wait, aren’t most sociopaths and psychopaths men?

      • Lackadaisical

        All I heard from Aware101 was “hush now crazy ladies, the accused is a man so keep your feminine craziness quiet because we all know that you silly girls can’t tell what’s real or make things up to be mad”. Now excuse me while I go and destroy some decent men with my girly hysteria.

      • Benita

        What about a victim’s dignity? That’s not at all important to you? What about the FACT that allegations of sexual abuse are usually never reported? Woody may not be a conventionally attractive man but he is still a famous, rich, white, cis man with way more privilege in this world than his victim does. What about that?

      • Stephenesque

        These allegations WERE reported 20 years ago, and they were found, by an independent team of professionals to be without foundation.

      • Iwill Findu

        Dude my great-grandfather wasn’t a good looking man when he was sexually assaulting my mother and uncles. People are passing this around FB because it some how affects them or someone they know. So under your logic what my uncles are all mentally ill young women?
        People that do that stuff to kids don’t belong in polite society. Woody Allen can join my Great-grandfather burning in the depths of hell and I hope someone remembers to piss on his grave.

    • Remember Me, or else!

      While it’s true NONE of us where there and cannot know what really happened…
      one of the dudes involved married his step daughter… so…. yeah…

      • Lackadaisical

        This. So much this. His track record of boundaries with a young, impressionanable step daughter have so far not led me to want to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. I am disturbed by the idea of a man who could get into a sexual relationship with someone who has been raised to see him as a father at various points in her life and who he was supposed to view as a daughter. I am suspicious of anyone who could do that. Dylan farrow, on the other hand, has never been caught falsely accusing anyone. If we based our opinion on reputation and past deeds alone then why would anyone believe Woody Allen. Yes, I know that the step daughter he married was older and consented but it still shows that he can view his own step daughter who is far, far younger as fair game sexually.

      • Surfaces

        Soon Yi was not raised to see him as a father or even a father figure. Her father and father-figure are Andre Previn, and Allen being married to her adoptive mother doesn’t change that.

      • ted3553

        It sure does to me. She became his step-daughter at age 7. Even if my step child didn’t live with me full time, I can’t imagine having a hand in raising a child that I then fall in love with and marry when she was what-21? I have to agree with Remember Me, or else!

      • Stephenesque

        She did not, at any age, become his stepdaughter. Mia and Woody never married, never lived together and Woody never once stayed the night at Mia’s house.

      • ted3553

        Fair enough but Woody and Mia started dating when soon yi was very young and they dated for many years during which, there’s no way he didn’t fill in as some father figure to her. No matter how you spin it, you don’t date/marry a child you had a hand in raising. A 56 year old man is ok marrying a 21 yr old who he’d seen grow up, that was the adopted daughter of a long time girlfriend. NOPE

      • Stephenesque

        He didn’t need to fill in as a father figure, her adoptive father, Andre Previn fulfilled that role.

        And Woody didn’t play any part in raising her either…

        “According to court documents and Mia’s own memoir, until 1990 (when Soon-Yi was 18 or 20), Woody “had little to do with any of the Previn children, (but) had the least to do with Soon-Yi” so Mia encouraged him to spend more time with her. Woody started taking her to basketball games, and the rest is tabloid history. So he hardly “had his eye on her” from the time she was a child.”

      • Samantha Escobar

        Totally agreed that it is really, really creepy and I take a lot of issue with the whole situation, but I should note that he never legally adopted Soon Yi.

      • Stephenesque

        No, he didn’t, so no…

    • Abbe

      I’m so sick of people glorifying celebrities and putting them on pedestals.
      Celebrities are just people who get paid to act FAKE. Being an actor or director and winning awards does not make you a decent human being.

      • Iwill Findu

        It just proves you can play a decent human well in the spot light

      • keanesian

        But Woody Allen doesn’t even play a decent human in public? It’s kind of his shtick that he’s a mess.

    • Porkchop

      It would be terrible to be falsely accused, but Woody Allen is the last person on earth who needs to protected. His privilege goes WAY beyond being rich and white. He’s been cultivated the
      character of a harmless guy for FORTY YEARS on screen. People can’t
      believe he’s dangerous.

      Brave as hell to go up against that.

    • Rio

      I started boycotting him when he married a young woman for whom he was essentially a father figure during her formative years. She was still so young, and he had so recently lived as her father in her house for years – I was convinced sexual abuse had taken place with her for that to take place. I couldn’t imagine how Hollywood could support him when that alone took place. The statements from Farrow certainly solidify my thoughts regarding him. It has lessened my opinion of actors who work with him. It makes me ill every time Hollywood holds him up as a great and gifted man.

      • Stephenesque

        Oh for goodness sake, he was not a father figure to Soon-Yi, that was Andre Previn. And he never, ever lived in the same house as her. Woody and Mia lived in separate houses and in the 12 years that Woody and Mia dated, Woody never once stayed the night at Mia’s house.

        So your silly boycott was based on a false premise.

        Maybe it’s just the films featuring Mia that you should be boycotting. She is after all accused of child abuse by coaching Dylan to make these false accusations, and she does still support Roman Polanski, someone who has actually been convicted.

    • Keith E Gatling

      It is a tough spot. On the one hand I do believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” on the other hand, knowing what the accuser has to go through in order to *try* to prove the other party guilty…

      The sad thing is that there is no easy answer. There is no way to set up a time machine and find out what really happened…a time machine, which, by the way would also enable anyone else to see us doing things that we didn’t want anyone else to know about, and invading our privacy in the most intimate ways. Is that a suitable price to pay in order to know for sure and to make certain that justice is served?

      Knowing what I *think* I know, I’m going with the kid. However, there’s also this to be considered:

    • Nic

      like others have said- if it was JUST this one incident, i might be able to take his word for it, BUT the guy has a loooooong sordid history of dating girls- not women, girls, as an older man. Plus, one of those younger girls that he left his wife for was an adopted daughter, so obviously he does not look at family members with any kind of the benign, “hands-off” quality with which most men view their daughters. Then, on a lesser but not irrelevant note, is his movies, which have themes of incest and men dating women waaaaaaaaaay too young for them. if this was anyone else- say a neighbor or a friend- i think this would easily be a no-brainer for most of us, but it’s more difficult with him because woody allen is a beloved artistic icon or role model for some of us. doesn’t mean he’s a god or above reproach- it’s just hard to admit that our heroes are human and can be villains.

    • Kelly17

      Doubting a person’s claim doesn’t mean you are blaming the victim. Accusations of sexual assault of any kind, especially with children is complete taboo and just a horrible subject but it doesn’t mean that everyone that makes these accusations are being truthful. People should think for themselves instead of worrying about going along with the popular opinion.

    • pcam

      The fact that she was not actually is step-child but his adopted child should not matter but
      somehow it does. He was (is) her dad and should have protected from all things evil, instead he destroyed her for the sake of his pathetic sexual perversions

    • mrBrainToLeg

      He had a consensual relationship with a woman of legal age, who he has now been married to for over 15 years. Accusing someone of sexual assault smears them for life, regardless of what verdict the court renders. No one is saying the guy made great life choices. And it is possible that he sexually assaulted a young girl. But it is also possible Mia Farrow used this to smear the name of the person who hurt her. No one can know for sure. Memory is a tricky thing. Memory misattribution is the flaw in deciphering between potential origins of a memory. The source could come from an actual occurring perception, or it can come from an induced and imagined event.