Last weekend Dylan Farrow came forward for the first time with an absolutely heartbreaking account of her alleged abuse at the hands of her father, Woody Allen.
Now Woody Allen has come forward in his own New York Times Op-Ed, in which he asserts his absolute innocence and maintains that Mia Farrow is a vindictive, back-stabbing liar; that he was fully exonerated by a panel of experts; and that details about the alleged abuse clearly came from song lyrics. He even questions the idea that Dylan wrote the account of her alleged abuse on her own, saying that it “smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.”
“Now it’s 21 years later and Dylan has come forward with the accusations that the Yale experts investigated and found false. Plus a few little added creative flourishes that seem to have magically appeared during our 21-year estrangement.”
Perhaps that is purely a matter of poor word choice, but there’s nothing magical about Dylan Farrow’s awful story, and using the words “creative flourishes” to describe the grotesque details of an alleged sexual assault is stomach-churning in its tackiness.
Throughout the essay, Allen maintains that he was proved completely innocent by the panel of Yale experts who he says demonstrated beyond doubt that Dylan Farrow was never abused. Vanity Fair’s Maureen Oth points out that the Yale panel consisted of two social workers and a doctor who did not examine Dylan Farrow.
“No psychologists or psychiatrists were on the panel,” she writes. “The social workers never testified; the hospital team only presented a sworn deposition by Dr. Leventhal, who did not examine Dylan.” The judge, prosecutor, and state police questioned the report’s reliability. Oth says Leventhal later backed down from the contention that Dylan Farrow had difficulty separating fact from reality.
Dylan nearly instantly responded to Allen’s article with a letter to The Hollywood Reporter, asserting that she has not changed her story for 20 years, and there have been no creative flourishes or magical additions. She’s not a child; she’s a full-grown woman telling her story as an adult. She writes:
His op-ed is the latest rehash of the same legalese, distortions, and outright lies he has leveled at me for the past 20 years. He insists my mother brought criminal charges – in fact, it was a pediatrician who reported the incident to the police based on my firsthand account. He suggests that no one complained of his misconduct prior to his assault on me – court documents show that he was in treatment for what his own therapist described as “inappropriate” behavior with me from as early as 1991. He offers a carefully worded claim that he passed a lie detector test – in fact, he refused to take the test administered by the state police (he hired someone to administer his own test, which authorities refused to accept as evidence). These and other misrepresentations have been rebutted in more detail by independent, highly respected journalists, including this most recent article here.
As there was no criminal trial and there is no legal trial going on now, Farrow points out that the final legal ruling in the case was made by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1992, which denied Allen all custody. Farrow maintains that court debunked the Yale experts Allen claims exonerated him, as the court asserted their testimony was “colored by their loyalty to Mr. Allen,” and the lead author of their report never actually met Farrow. The court ruled that panel’s assessments were “sanitized and therefore less credible.”
Farrow says the court documents also said:
“…there is no credible evidence to support Mr. Allen’s contention that Ms. [Mia] Farrow coached Dylan or that Ms. Farrow acted upon a desire for revenge against him for seducing Soon-Yi. Mr. Allen’s resort to the stereotypical ‘woman scorned’ defense is an injudicious attempt to divert attention from his failure to act as a responsible parent and adult.”
Allen’s op-ed refrains from calling Dylan a liar, and he does not deny that Dylan is the victim in this story, but in Allen’s version of events she is a victim of Mia Farrow’s actions, not his own. He maintains that the allegations of child molestation are completely the work of Mia Farrow and that Dylan herself has little if any agency in the matter. He even questions her authorship of her previous New York Times letter, implying it was Mia Farrow’s work and not Dylan’s. He finished his op-ed with an appeal to Dylan:
Of course, I did not molest Dylan. I loved her and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter’s well-being.
Dylan Farrow’s response indicates that something good has come out of this process for her.
From the bottom of my heart, I will be forever grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from survivors and countless others. If speaking out about my experience can help others stand up to their tormentors, it will be worth the pain and suffering my father continues to inflict on me.
It’s a heartening closure, considering that her initial letter she spoke of the heartbreaking feeling of being abandoned and discounted as people chose to ignore her or discount her story. It sounds like the words of support from survivors and other people who say they believe her have been some comfort in what can only be an unimaginably painful experience for everyone involved.