Next step uncertain in Woody Allen allegations
A week bracketed by op-ed letters of accusation and denial of child molestation left little clarity and scant hope for resolution in a bitter saga that has haunted Woody Allen and the Farrow family for more than two decades.
The back-and-forth between Allen and his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, breathed new fire into a long dormant scandal, but what happens next is uncertain, with the possibility of legal recourse and continued scrutiny in the weeks and months ahead.
Farrow, in her most detailed account yet, alleged in an open letter published Feb. 1 by The New York Times that Allen "sexually assaulted" her when she was 7 years old at the Farrows’ Connecticut home, renewing a charge against the movie director that was first leveled in 1992.
Allen responded in a letter posted online Friday night by the Times that insisted "of course I did not molest Dylan." He instead claimed the young Dylan had been coerced and misled by her mother, Mia Farrow. The two acrimoniously separated after Farrow discovered Allen was having an affair with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, who was 19 or 21 at the time. (Her date of birth is uncertain.)
"I loved (Dylan) 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," said Allen, who married Previn in 1997 and has two adopted daughters with her.
Mia Farrow has yet to comment on Allen’s letter. Representatives for Farrow didn’t respond to messages left Friday night and Saturday.
Allen ended his letter by declaring it would be his "final word on this entire matter."
But the rampant debate sparked by Dylan Farrow’s accusation will likely continue to stir questions over the alleged molestation, how claims of sexual assault are publicly weighed, and the legacy of Allen’s acclaimed work as a filmmaker.
Filing criminal charges would be difficult for Farrow. In Connecticut, Farrow had until age 20 to file charges. (She is now 28, married and living in Florida.) In 2002, Connecticut extended the cutoff to age 48, but that only covers crimes since the change. Exceptions can be made for the most serious sexual crimes.
Connecticut state prosecutor Frank Maco, who investigated the charges in 1993 but is now retired, has said he believes the statute of limitations ran out on the case years ago.
Farrow could file a civil suit against Allen. Though a suit would offer the opportunity to retry the case in civil court, it would insure a drawn-out, very public battle that would be taxing for all involved.
The history of the case is clouded by a 1993 investigation that was full of contradictions. Allen wasn’t charged and a team of child abuse specialists from the Yale-New Haven Hospital brought in by prosecutors concluded Dylan had not been molested. But Maco claimed there was "probable cause" for charging him. In the custody battle, Judge Elliott Wilk concluded Allen’s behavior with Dylan was "grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her."
A disciplinary panel found that Maco may have prejudiced the custody battle by making an accusation without formal charges.
Maco challenged Allen’s statement in the op-ed that he "very willingly" took a lie-detector test. He said that Allen refused a request to take a polygraph from the Connecticut state police during the investigation and that the test he took was administered privately.
Maco said that he was "incensed" at Allen’s letter, which said that the district attorney had been "champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case."
"I consider that a personal attack on my character. I consider it an insult to the criminal justice system of the state of Connecticut," Maco said.
Even without further legal action, the public eye in which Allen and the Farrows operate will keep the matter in the headlines.
Ronan Farrow, the 26-year-old son of Allen and Mia Farrow (though she has said Frank Sinatra could be the father), will start hosting his own show on MSNBC on Feb. 24. He has supported Dylan Farrow, while their brother Moses, 36, has insisted Allen never molested her.
Allen’s latest film, "Blue Jasmine," is nominated for three Academy Awards. Though Allen, long an award-show absentee, won’t be at the March 2 Oscars, he could win his fifth Oscar for the screenplay to "Blue Jasmine." The film’s star, Cate Blanchett, is generally considered the front-runner for best actress.
It was the Golden Globes’ recent honoring of Allen for its Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award that precipitated Dylan Farrow’s op-ed, which was largely aimed at the movie industry and fans of Allen for turning a blind eye to the director’s alleged molestation.
But if the endgame of the situation is unclear, Dylan Farrow has suggested she’s already accomplished her goal.
"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," Farrow said in a statement following Allen’s op-ed. "I won’t let the truth be buried and I won’t be silenced."