In 1992, a Vanity Fair writer called Maureen Orth wrote what is still considered to be the most succinct account of the legal facts of the prosecution of Woody Allen by the state of Connecticut. You can read the original article here and I’ll link to a couple of others throughout this post.
There are 10 important points to take from the trial and the preceding brouhaha that are usually forgotten. Because Vanity Fair operates a pay wall, I’ve taken Orth’s work and various other sources and making a Cliffnotes version for you.
1.) Farrow did not report allegations of sexual abuse to the police. On the 5th of August, 1992 she took her 7 year old daughter, Dylan, to a paediatrician. On the 6th of August the paediatrician reported concerns for Dylan’s welfare. Which – as a mandatory reporter – is part of their job.
2.) Allen had been in therapy for alleged inappropriate behaviour towards Dylan before abuse allegations were reported or made public. In fact, babysitters were instructed not to allow him to be alone with his children. Later, Ronan Farrow would corroborate Dylan’s account that Allen would climb into her bed at night wearing only his underpants and ask her to suck his thumb.
3.) Allen refused to take a polygraph test if the police administered it. Instead his own lawyers did it for him. It was not admissible in court. I wanted to refrain from making my own comments but I don’t think I’d have allowed it either.
4.) Allen lost 4 successive Court battles – a lawsuit, a disciplinary complaint against the prosecutor and two appeals – and had to pay $1 million towards Farrow’s legal fees. Judge Elliott Wilk, who presided over Allen’s custody proceedings against Farrow, ruled that there was “no credible evidence…that Ms. Farrow coached Dylan or that Ms. Farrow acted upon a desire for revenge against him for seducing Soon-Yi.”.
5.) Judge Wilk found that Allen’s behaviour toward Dylan was “grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”. The Judge also detailed Farrow’s assertions that Allen had shown worrying tendencies towards Dylan from the age of 2 or 3. He did not – unlike the media – dismiss her testimony.
6.) Dylan’s claims of abuse in her parents’ attic were consistent with those of 3 adults – two babysitters and a tutor – who were mandatory reporters. Three. All three accounts contradict those of Dylan’s brother Moses.
7.) None of the 3 experts on the panel that found that Dylan had never been molested ever met with Dylan or Mia Farrow. Their report was frequently cited by Allen’s attorneys – and, again, it was judged unreliable by Judge Wilk and by the state prosecutor who originally commissioned it. Put simply, it was a complete fabrication. That didn’t prevent Allen from standing on the courtroom’s steps announcing the results – therefore violating his daughter’s confidentiality.
8.) Allen repeatedly changed his story to match forensic evidence. Reporters wrote about him dithering – rather than obfuscating or lying.
9.) The State Attorney, Maco, said that he did have enough evidence to press a case due to probable cause. However, he couldn’t bring himself to use it because it would mean putting a vulnerable, fragile child on the stand. He considered it a matter of conscience.
10.) Judge Wilk’s custody ruling amounted to a 33 page report that describes Allen as “self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive”. It also dismissed claims that Farrow “brainwashed” Dylan. Specifically he wrote that “There is no credible evidence to support Mr Allen’s contention that Ms Farrow coached Dylan.”. He also said that Farrow was not a faultless parent but that her “principal shortcoming with respect to responsible parenting appears to have been her continued relationship with Mr. Allen.”.
I recommend reading the report before knee-jerking to the defense of a man about whom an experienced judge wrote “a lack of judgment and…commitment to the continuation of his divisive assault warrant…a careful monitoring of his future contact with the children.”.
I understand that people find it hard to find their heroes human. It can be devastating when you find out that they treat restaurant staff rudely. Somehow, they seem to find allegations of very serious crimes much more difficult to take seriously. Other writers have communicated this better than I can so please explore the idea. This is a great starting point.
People have maligned Mia Farrow. Speculation about her mental health has been both unkind and unhelpful. It has also centered around the wellbeing of a man old enough to know better and wealthy enough to look after himself.
I could write an entire series of pieces about this. Allen is perfectly capable of showing us exactly who and what he is. Worse, he does so frequently. He’s relentless in his compulsive skeeviness and shameless in demonstrating it.
Next time I talk about it, I’ll cover his past history of grooming. Again, I’m not going to gloss over any of the details and I will try to be objective. It’s hard, though. Really hard.
I’ll leave you something to go on – a link to a recent interview with Allen where he had the opportunity to defend himself.