• Tue, Feb 4 - 1:21 pm ET

Barbara Walters Disappointingly Blames Victims Of Woody Allen’s Alleged Sexual Abuse

Opening night of Broadway's A Time To Kill-Arrivals

Today we learned that even Barbara Walters can be so blinded by the effects of rape culture that she would be willing to blame a victim of child abuse.

Yesterday’s episode of The View touched on Dylan Farrow‘s open letter to her father, Woody Allen, which accuses the director of sexually abusing her when she was seven years old. Here’s a (potentially triggering) excerpt:

That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. 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.

Walters defended Allen on the show, implying that the accusations against him, true or untrue, are not a reflection on who he is today. She went on to declare Allen “a loving, caring father” and to say that he and his wife Soon-Yi (Mia Farrow‘s adopted daughter, whom Allen helped raise) have “a good marriage.” Walters added that Dylan must be coming forward with this story now because her father is in the news lately, asking, “Does your personal life interfere with the awards you get?”

barbara walters

At that point, Sherri Shepherd interrupted to say, “We’ve heard so many cases of people going, ‘He was the most wonderful person in the world! I would have never thought he would’ve done that.’ … There are so many things that go on behind closed doors. We know that he was with Soon-Yi when she was very young. … He was dating a 17-year-old at one point. You’ve also got a man who’s got a track record.”

Walters interjected, “The fact that he likes younger women, that has nothing to do with it.”

Shepherd argued, “But they’re not of age! Seventeen is not of age.”

And then Walters said, “But it was mutual. To condemn this man now is unfair.”

sherri shepherd and barbara walters

Wow. That opinion is a thousand shades of not okay. While studies have estimated that only around 6% of rape accusations are proven false, it’s understandable that people are hesitant to condemn one of their heroes for something he only allegedly did. Okay. But whether or not you fully believe the contents of Farrow’s letter, Barbara Walters is stepping into dangerous territory by suggesting that underage girls are able to consent to sex with adult men who are in much, much higher positions of power.

I’m not making a comment about Soon-Yi and Allen’s marriage today– they might be healthy and happy and all good, and it’s really nobody’s business anyway– but when you start down the path of excusing abuse because “it turned out all right,” you’re contributing to a culture in which victims are afraid to come forward and abusers walk free. Seventeen-year-old girls can consent to sex with adult men in many in places in the world– fine. In the United States, they cannot. It doesn’t matter if you personally consider the beginning of their relationship to be abuse; it was illegal. He had the power and he took advantage of that. There aren’t any blurred lines there.

It’s extremely disappointing to see such a respected journalist speaking about issues as important as child abuse without considering how much weight her words carry.

Via Us Weekly / Photos: WENN, ABC

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  • Kaitlin Reilly

    I believe Dylan Farrow, but that’s besides the point. I understand that it’s difficult to digest horrible information about a celebrity (or peer) that you respect, but come on, Barbara Walters… you know better than this.
    I always thought the Soon Yi thing was VERY weird. 17 might be teetering on the age of consent but that does not make it okay. The fact that Woody Allen was an authority in her life prior to their relationship is disturbing. While they may have a consensual relationship now, I speculate that there were many problematic things about the start of their relationship, and not just that she was “too young” biologically.

    • NYCNanny

      Except he wasn’t an authority in her life. She literally never spent time with him. They didn’t know each other. Mia eventually asked him to get to know her by taking her to Knicks games. That’s where they began to know each other and form a relationship. Right or not is not for is to Judge. But he was not her father, authority figure, step dad…..

    • Kaitlin Reilly

      Okay, fair. However, while maybe not an authority figure in that sense, I would consider someone my mother’s age — who was in a relationship with my mother! — to have some sort of power over a teenage girl, psychologically. There may not have been an established relationship but I think there’s a power issue here with the age alone, and his relationship with her mother would put him on a similar playing field to a stepfather, regardless of the time spent together.

    • NYCNanny

      True. But, I’m playing devils advocate…so I’ll say this:
      1. Woody and Mia weren’t really seriously dating at that point. She had other lovers on the side, and she was more of woodsy muse than serious girlfriend.
      2. In regards to power and age…most females at some point in their life have relationships with older more powerful men. Women are biologically attracted to power and masculinity. I can’t sound how many of my friends have dated professors, authority figures, older men, yada yada…myself included.
      3. This is just my opinion, but… It wasn’t just a month long affair between these two. They’re married and have a family together. She is a very smart woman with multiple degrees from top universities. She also well knew that she would be giving up her siblings and mother for this man. That’s serious.

      Anyway…I’m not saying the woody/soon yi relationship is the most kosher I’ve seen…but I also think it’s terrible how the public seems to make snap judgements on a relationship they obviously know nothing about. They go off rumors…not facts.

      ***typing on phone…ignore typos.****

    • Kaitlin Reilly

      You have a point about how they are still together, but I have trouble believing that a 17-year-old truly knows what she is getting into when she starts a relationship with someone in their 40s. Regardless of Mia and Woody Allen’s personal relationship or how faithful they were… is it ever appropriate to have a sexual relationship with the teen daughter of your ex-girlfriend? Maybe the law is on Woody Allen’s side in this case, but I think there’s something really twisted about feeling comfortable enough to do this.

  • Lindsey Conklin

    It’s so interesting to see celebrities taking sides. I just don’t know how you can justify these alleged claims. And yeah, the Soon-Yi thing is very weird

    • arrow2010

      There will be a reckoning as all the celebs taking Woody’s side will be eviscerated.

  • elle

    I have never understand how people can condone Allen’s and Soon-Yis relationship. She was seventeen! He was her father figure! Mia also reportedly found a ton of pornographic Polaroids of an underage Soon-Yi in his apartment. That’s how she found out about them. I’m curious to know how old she was when that started. I most definitely see a pattern and barring some hard evidence I can’t imagine Dylan is lying or exaggerating and I kind of despise every celeb standing up to defend him.

    • NYCNanny

      He was NOT her father figure!!!! Get the facts. He barely knew her. Mia asked him to spend more time with her to get to know her! Only then (when she was 17) did they begin a friendship.

    • whiteroses

      He started dating his longtime romantic partner’s daughter, and took pornographic pictures of her. There’s also some indications that Soon-Yi is developmentally disabled. How is that ok?

    • NYCNanny

      Dating your partners daughter is not ok. It’s morally icky and I don’t condone it. That being said, it’s not illegal. She was of age.
      As for pornographic photos, she was of age, and who HASNT had their boyfriends take sexy photos of us in some way or another?

      To day that soon yi is developmentally disabled is ridiculous. She’s very smart…attending Columbia university, and being an academic in her own right. I’ve seen her and woody around NYC a handful of times and they seem perfectly normal…quiet and respectful and good parents.

    • whiteroses

      It’s not illegal, so that makes it right?

      I’m sure she’s awesome. But it’s still a weird situation, and its one that I sincerely doubt just popped up as soon as she became legal. You can’t tell me he suddenly got interested in her on her 17th birthday.

    • NYCNanny

      And I won’t even get into the “how is it ok for someone to marry a disabled person” comment you made because that’s so involved. (And FYI, the best boyfriend I’ve ever had was autistic. Amazing in bed.)

    • whiteroses

      Autism isn’t a disability, but ok.

    • NYCNanny

      Intellectual disability…according to autism speaks, social services, and many other organizations.

      Just trying to make a point… Even if she WAS developmentally disabled, that doesn’t mean she couldn’t be a smart, functioning member of society with a husband, kids, and a life. (But she’s not disabled.)

    • whiteroses

      Of course it doesn’t mean that she can’t be a smart, functioning member of society. I never said nor implied that. Having grown up all my life around people who are neuro-atypical, developmentally disabled, mentally disabled, or handicapped, I know that what society deems “normal” is a very, very narrow definition at times. I also know that a person who will take advantage of someone (sexually or in any other way) who is neuro-atypical or disabled is the lowest of the low.

      But if a 40 year old man is having a sexual relationship with a 17 year old, what does it say about that man? Whether she’s disabled or not? There’s an insane imbalance of power there, especially since he was her mother’s ex-lover.

    • NYCNanny

      I completely agree that their relationship wasn’t cookie cutter simple. They have a huge age difference…but that does not mean they aren’t equals. That doesn’t mean he raped her or controls her. Women like men of power..:it’s biological. Men like youth and fertility. Again, only biology. I’ve slept with plenty of much older men. I have never been abused or raped or have daddy issues. I simply like older men because I find them more interesting, smarter, and just plain sexier. The men who f me are not bad people. They are not sociopaths or the lowest of the low.

      Ps: she was either 19 or 21 when they started dating. Not sure where you get the 17 “fact.”

    • whiteroses

      You’re over the age of 21, right? So what you do in the bedroom is nobody’s business and completely irrelevant to the discussion.

      If a 17 year old is dating a 40 year old, then it’s a huge imbalance of power. Statutory rape laws exist for a reason. She may or may not have been a legal adult. But you can’t tell me that he woke up one morning, looked at his 18 year old pseudo stepdaughter, and figured, “Yes! She will do very nicely and I’ve never had these feelings before!”

      I suggest you carefully read this article. http://nypost.com/2014/02/08/woody-mia-a-greek-tragedy/

    • NYCNanny

      I started dating much older men when I was 19. Probably would have started earlier, but I had a high school/college bf.

      Peace out.

  • Benita

    In New York, the age of consent is 17, it doesn’t mean that what he did with Soon Yi wasn’t sketchy as hell but it was technically legal in New York.

  • Benita

    It’s troubling that all these hours later, you still haven’t corrected this post. Eighteen is not a standard age of consent in the United States, it varies from state to state. Your legal argument here holds no water.

    • brebay

      Thank you. Age of consent and age of majority are NOT the same, it’s 16 in most states. Still think this guy’s a pedo who was at the very least grooming and more likely, molesting Soon-Yi for years, but, yeah, fact checking would be nice. Age of consent laws are state, not federal. there is no U.S. age of consent.

  • Choo

    I just read an article written by someone who made a documentary about Woody Allen (I wish I had it so I could link it.)
    1. Soon Yi was either 19 or 21 at the time they started seeing each other (her actual year of birth is uncertain, but it is believed to be one of those ages)
    2. Allen was not a father figure to Soon Yi. Her father figure was her adopted father. She had hardly any contact with Allen until she was 19/21.
    3. Psychologists from with Dylan was a child concluded that the “memory” was probably implanted by her mother.

    That being said, even though it’s none of my business, the Woody-Soon Yi relationship is still a little weird. But, ya know, whatever. Not my life.

    And, the psychologists could totally be wrong. Maybe Mia had nothing to do with it. Dylan’s a victim of abuse either way – if Allen abused her, or if her mother brainwashed her to believe he did.

    • Choo

      Also, this has nothing to do with Barbara Walters, who was totally out of line. Her “defense” was totally inappropriate.

    • Kelly

      Actually, no “psychologists” did not determine that Dylan’s memory was implanted. The psychologists that Woody Allen specifically hired smeared a little girl and used the fact that she broke down while telling the story of her abuse as “proof” that it was bullshit.

      Dylan’s psychologists and the authorities never concluded that she was a liar or that her memories were fake.

      He paid “professionals” to publicly smear, insult, and traumatize his own daughter. That’s exactly what any pedophile would do to hid his crimes. It is not what a loving father would do to a daughter going through a hellish experience with a psychotic, evil mother.

    • Guest

      This was the article from The Daily Beast. Interesting article that lays out some interesting points. I’m really not sure what happened between Woody and Dylan Allen. I was convinced, but after reading that article I feel like I would need to do more research before taking a side.

    • Elaine Leirer

      dear guest……the Daily Beast article left out and distorted many things.

    • Miriam

      That article was written by Robert Wiede, who is certainly an admirer of Allen if not an actual friend. He is NOT a neutral party at all, and he cherry picks quite a bit. Soon-Yi Previn was part of Mia’s household during the 12 years during which Woody Allen was her romantic partner and during which they officially shared parenting of three children. The idea that somehow Allen was just father to Ronan, Dylan, and Moses but was nothing to Soon-Yi is ridiculous. Although Allen and Farrow maintained separate households, per Allen’s own testimony, he was a daily part of Farrow’s household. He does appear to have been a shitty father/father figure (the judge in the custody case was so disgusted by Allen’s lack of knowledge about his children that he said Farrow’s main fault was exposing her children to Woody Allen and gave Allen no unsupervised visitation), but he was still part of Soon-Yi’s life as she was growing up.

      Wiede also minimizes that both judge and prosecutor believed Dylan’s account and handwaves the irregularities in the psychologist’s report. He plays it very coy, but no, it’s not standard for psychologists to destroy their notes!

      Dylan also did not just recount one memory. She recounts a pattern of sexually uncomfortable behavior that escalated to the assault. It’s classic grooming behavior. So to believe Allen, one has to believe that Mia was capable of not just implanting a single memory in Dylan’s mind but of implanting multiple memories that have all survived intact over two decades. Isn’t it a little more likely that a man who considers it fine to make a casual joke about his ex-wife’s rape, to make a movie celebrating a middle-aged man’s relationship with a 17-year-old student, to have written multiple casual jokes about the joys of sex with teen girls, to have had relationships with teenagers, and to have carried on an illicit affair with his long-term romantic partner’s daughter/children’s sister actually sexually assaulted his daughter? Especially given that Moses, Ronan, and Dylan all rejected Woody Allen and sided with Mia (Wiede claims that Moses is now reconciled to Allen, but Weide doesn’t source that claim, Moses hasn’t made any statements, and IMHO, it’s less significant that he may have grown to reconcile with his famous and successful father as an adult than that he rejected contact with him as a teen)

    • Ennis Demeter
    • Choo

      I was really hoping to like that article… but it was pretty disappointing. Most of the “take-down” points were pretty superficial. I’m not particularly a Woody Allen supporter. I have never seen a movie of his that I liked, though I’ve only seen a couple because of that. And I’ve always found him pretty creepy. But I’m still mostly doubtful about the Dylan situation.

    • NYCNanny

      Thank you! Literally everyone on here is dead wrong about the facts and is obviously just on some weird feminist witch hunt.

  • Robotic Arms Dealer

    It’s easy to blame the victim… so I will

    - Bawbwa Waltuhs

  • Kelly

    It doesn’t even matter if it’s legal or not. An adult who dates teenagers is a creep who should be viewed as the manipulative dirtbag he or she is. They don’t do it just because teenagers have firm bodies. 25 year olds have firm bodies too. They do it because they can wield power over an inexperienced kid who doesn’t know any better.

    But all that is a moot point anyways. He sexually assaulted a seven year old child. Anyone who defends that is a piece of shit.

    • Abbe

      A thousand upvotes here

    • Elaine Leirer

      His personality reeks of an insecure person who would need this kind of validation. Revisit his movies

    • http://www.max-logic.com/ maxfab

      You’re right. Whenever I watch his movies all I can see is how much he obviously hates women.

    • pc

      I agree. I always liked Barbara Walters before but now I totally despise her!!!! For her to take up for a child molester and say that it was a “mutual” relationship with a 17 year old is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. She need to talk to Dr. Phil!!! I think her actions and words show her true character……..she needs to get off TV and Take it To The House!!!!! You should never treat a person in Dylan’s situation like that. Truly Unbelievable!

    • NYCNanny

      Or, gosh, maybe they just fell in love.

  • Abbe

    So very disappointing that she automatically defends him based largely on ‘who he is today’, that’s not even relevant.

  • brebay

    Actually, in most states, yes, you can consent at 16 or 17. Age of consent is NOT age of majority, and is a state law which varies widely. Dylan was abused, Soon-Yi was probably abused long before she was 17,Woody is a pedo, Barbara is senile, but, seriously, fact check.

    • EX

      Thank you. Was going to say the same thing. Age of consent in NY is 17. And I in NO WAY condone his relationship with Soon-Yi and agree that he in all likelihood molested Dylan. But saying that the age of consent in the US is 18 is factually incorrect and making a mistake like that takes away from the larger point of the article (that Barbara Walters’ defense of this man is inexcusable).

    • ElleJai

      Where I live in Victoria, Australia you can consent in limited circumstances from ten to sixteen (older partner no more than two years older, younger partner must be at least ten), for most purposes you can consent at sixteen, but it’s EIGHTEEN, the legal age of majority here, before you can be considered to consent to a relationship with anyone in a position of power of you, ie guardian or teacher.

      We’re pretty liberal, but Allen is sick. He needs help, not awards.

  • brebay

    There’s a difference between meeting a girl at 17 and thinking of her sexually and raising a girl from age SEVEN and EVER thinking of her sexually. If anyone believes his sexual feelings toward Soon-Yi magically appeared when she was close to adulthood, they’re in as deep denial as Barbara.

    • elle

      Yes thank you! I will never believe that he only started looking at her sexually when she turned 17. Never ever.

    • NYCNanny

      He only met her a few times when she was young. He did not raise her. He barely knew her.

    • brebay

      barely knew her! Oh, wow, thanks for the laugh, I needed that!

    • NYCNanny

      He met her a handful @ times, never actually spending time with her… But way to laugh at facts.

    • whiteroses

      Still doesn’t make it ok.

    • whiteroses

      Yeah- I don’t care if it was “mutual”. There’s a reason why statutory rape laws exist.

  • arrow2010

    Barbara Walters is a sick, evil, twisted woman. Toasty I hear down in hell.

  • ohioadoptee

    Ms. Walters is an adoptive parent. In every interview she has ever given (where adoption was even remotely involved) she has ALWAYS sided with the adopter. She holds adopters up on a pedestal, including herself. It is a disgusting savior complex, and one that many adopters have.

    • MegzWray

      I don’t believe that adoption has anything to do with this issue. He supposedly assaulted the daughter (adopted or not) of his partner.

    • brebay

      Soon-Yi was the adopted daughter if Mia and another man. Dylan is the adopted daughter of Mia and Woody, she’s HIS daugher, not his partner’s daughter

  • JamesT32

    Walters is a legend in TV and a true pioneer with a laundry list of firsts and accomplishments, but she’s always poseessed something of an overly outspoken, dingbat quality about her and has offered any number of foolish opinions and observations over the years that have garnered her negative attention. If you know anything about the life and career of the always-weird Allen then it’s somewhat hard not to come to the conclusion that these recent accusations against him aren’t at least largely true, but the world is unfortunately mainly a subjective, not objective, place and people are going to defend those they’ve come to like and respect no matter what for the most part and, like it or not and sickening as it can be in certain instances, that’s just kinda the way the world works.

    • MerlePerle

      So true, I’m interested what would happen if somebody like Angelina Jolie came out and said Woody Allen molested them. Whom would the world rather believe? Personally I believe he did it, but I also kinda wanna give him the benefit of the doubt even though I never even liked his movies.

  • Shonda

    Even though 17 IS at the age of consent in many states in the US, no self respecting man would have sex with a 17 year old. Most men would be disgusted with themselves. Unlike woody allen….

    • Ennis Demeter

      Not only a 17 year old, but his partner’s daughter. He didn’t seem to care at all that his 17 year old lover would lose her relationship with her family and he didn’t care what his other children would think about him having an affair with their sister. For that alone, he is a monster.

  • JLH1986

    http://www.tmz.com/2014/02/05/woody-allen-12-year-old-sex-interview-pedophile/
    I know it’s TMZ but they get things right sometimes. Who “hypothetically” has an orgy with 12 year olds? EFF YOU WOODY ALLEN!

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I hadn’t heard any of this stuff before because I never really liked his movies anyway (oh wow middle aged privileged white men having big feelings oh my! I studied film theory in university so you get lots of 20something white dudes who think he’s a genius, ugh…I think they just like him because they show them that they can still bang young hot women no matter how old they are just by being really talky about their big feelings) but when I read about this, I was just like, yep, sounds about right, woody allen’s a creep so this surprises me NOT AT ALL.

  • Duchess

    Whether or not the allegations are true, Barbara Walters is a moron. I watch The View and the endless idiocy spouting from Barbara Walters is unimaginable and it doesn’t surprise me that she has this “view”. She was so insulted when Sherri disputed what she was saying, I can only imaginee the “discussion” they had in her office after the show. Who cares how many Presidents she has interviewed, her questions are irrelevant. Thank goodness she is leaving that show.

  • Choo

    I am really confused about the “17-year-old” bit. Everything I can find says she was between 19 and 21. Can someone link me to a reputable source that says Soon Yi was 17?

  • NYCNanny

    Woody Allen did not “help raise” soon-yi. He was not her father. He did not live with Mia Darrow. He barely ever interacted with most HER kids. Get the facts.

  • Cheryl Burns

    Barbara is an idiot, I think if Woody was a nobody her opinion would be different she make me sick it is all about who you know. Shame on Barbara!!!