Dylan Farrow has denied that she was “brainwashed” or “coached” into accusing her adopted father Woody Allen of sexual assault, in her first televised interview about the allegations.
In the interview on CBS This Morning, Farrow detailed her version of the events of 4 August 1992, when she alleges Allen assaulted her as a 7-year-old, and denied that her mother had influenced her. “What I don’t understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?” she said.
She added: “Every step of the way, my mother has only encouraged me to tell the truth. She has never coached me.”
She told interviewer Gayle King that her mother was out shopping when the assault occurred. “I was taken to a small attic crawl space in my mother’s country house in Connecticut by my father. He instructed me to lay down on my stomach and play with my brother’s toy train that was set up” she said. “And he sat behind me in the doorway, and as I played with the toy train, I was sexually assaulted … As a 7-year-old I would say, I would have said he touched my private parts.” Farrow described Allen touching “my labia and my vulva with his finger”.
Farrow added: “He would follow me around. He was always touching me, cuddling me and if I ever said, you know, like I want to go off by myself, he wouldn’t let me… He often asked me to get into bed with him when he had only his underwear on and sometimes when only I had my underwear on.”
Allen issued a statement denying the allegations. “Even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time’s Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesn’t make it any more true today than it was in the past,” it read. “I never molested my daughter – as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago.”
The statement went on: “When this claim was first made more than 25 years ago, it was thoroughly investigated by both the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare. They both did so for many months and independently concluded that no molestation had ever taken place. Instead, they found it likely a vulnerable child had been coached to tell the story by her angry mother during a contentious breakup.”
The abuse allegations first emerged in 1992, during a custody battle between Allen and his former partner Mia Farrow, in the wake of the breakdown of their relationship after Allen’s 1991 affair with Soon-Yi Previn, the 21-year-old adopted daughter of Farrow and her second husband André Previn. Allen was attempting to gain custody of his and Farrow’s child Satchel (now Ronan), as well as Dylan and Moses Farrow, the two children they had adopted together. Police asked the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of Yale–New Haven Hospital to investigate, and their conclusion was that Dylan was either “coached or influenced by her mother” or “emotionally disturbed”. Later the same year the Connecticut state prosecutor, Frank Maco, said that no charges would be filed despite “probable cause” as he did not want to cause Dylan distress with a trial. However, Allen was denied the custody he sought by a judge who called him “self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive”.
The allegations resurfaced in 2014 as Allen received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes: Mia and Ronan Farrow greeted the award with derisive tweets, including the latter’s assertion that “a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7”. Dylan Farrow then published an open letter in a New York Times blog, detailing her account of the allegation and saying: “Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.” Allen swiftly rebutted the accusation through his publicist, calling it “untrue and disgraceful”.
However, the cloud over Allen has continued to grow in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment. His tepid response to the allegations against Weinstein, about which he said that “Every man who winks at a woman is going to be scared of the lawyers” attracted considerable opprobrium. Ronan Farrow’s prominent position in detailing allegations against Weinstein with his October 2017 article in the New Yorkeradded to the credibility of Dylan Farrow’s allegations, which she repeated in December 2017 in the Los Angeles Times.
This appeared to set off a string of repudiations of Allen’s professional standing, as a string of actors – beginning with Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite star Mira Sorvino, also a high profile victim of Weinstein – expressed their regret at working with the director as well as apologising for not believing Dylan Farrow. Others to follow suit include Rebecca Hall, Greta Gerwig and Timothée Chalamet. Hall and Chalamet, who recently completed work on Allen’s most recent feature A Rainy Day in New York (due for release in 2018) both said they were donating their fee for the film to the Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment in the film industry.
CBS spoke to the Connecticut state prosecutor on the case, Frank Maco, who said that “there was no manipulation by Mia Farrow”, and that nothing in the police investigation indicated that Farrow was in any way being controlled or manipulated.
Despite the support from Ronan, other of her siblings are not in agreement. Moses Farrow, who is now estranged from Mia Farrow after opting to live with her after the 1993 custody case, spoke to People magazine in February 2014 – shortly after Dylan’s New York Times letter. He said: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister. And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi.”
Asked if she wished the prosecutor had filed the charges in 1993, Farrow said: “You know, honestly yes. I do wish that they had, you know, even if I’m just speaking in retrospect.”
Farrow says that she was traumatised by the alleged incident. “I loved my father. I respected him. He was my hero. And that doesn’t obviously take away from what he did. But it does make the betrayal and the hurt that much more intense.”
She also explicitly linked her decision to appear on TV with the #MeToo campaign. “With so much silence being broken by so many brave people against so many high profile people, I felt it was important to add my story to theirs … it was very momentous for me to see this conversation finally carried into a public setting.”
Allen’s directorial career, however, now looks to be over, with A Rainy Day in New York likely to be his final production – if it is ever released.