A thorough analysis of Woody Allen’s letter in the NYTimes

dylan farrow and woody allenI wrote yesterday about why neutral was an illogical response to Dylan’s accusations, but today I’d like to spend some time with Allen’s response to the allegations.  For the tl;drs out there, the summary is this: Allen spends 2000 words trying to make Mia Farrow sound like a crazy bitch, presenting incomplete and false information, and showing disrespect to his children, especially Dylan.  For those who’d like a point-by-point breakdown, you are in luck.  (EDIT: Here are two excellent statement analyses of Dylan’s letter and Allen’s letter)

TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought.

In the first sentence there are two things that are a bit disturbing.  The first is that Mia Farrow never accused him of child molestation, Dylan Farrow did.  Mia did not even go to the police with it, she went to a pediatrician, who by law was required to contact the police.  Allen is immediately turning this into a narrative of how Mia Farrow is out to get him, rather than a narrative about Dylan Farrow, who should be the focus of his response.

The second thing that bothers me is that he was accused of molestation by a child he was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards and who he was not allowed to see alone.  If I was a person wrongly accused of sexual abuse of a child, especially one where there was already damning evidence around me, I would FREAK OUT, but certainly I would give it a second thought.  That he didn’t give it a second thought and that he is comfortable beginning his defense narrative with the fact that he didn’t give it a second thought says to me that he somehow thinks this sort of accusation is not abnormal and a blasé response is perfectly acceptable and normal.

We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy.

We’ve made it to the second sentence, where he continues to present misinformation and attempts to paint Mia Farrow as a stereotypical vindictive woman scorned.  They were involved in an acrimonious breakup, because he’d cheated on her with her daughter, the sister of his children.  But there was no custody battle until after the police were alerted to Dylan’s claims.  He filed suit for custody BECAUSE Dylan made a sexual abuse claim against him — until then, he’d agreed not to even try to get custody.  The suit was ruled to be frivolous and he was forced to pay all of Mia Farrow’s legal fees.  In my opinion, he filed for custody to cast doubt upon Mia Farrow’s role as a mother to divert attention away from Dylan’s claims.

The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.

Again, Mia Farrow did not bring the accusations to the police, the doctor who she took Dylan to was required by law to go to the police.  Again, Allen is trying to pain Mia Farrow as an aggressor — even if she was, this is not an accurate accounting of events. He’s already told a great number of lies in an attempt to make Mia Farrow look bad.

I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail. After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct.

Again, Woody Allen was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards Dylan.  Allen was already not allowed to be alone with Dylan because of that behavior.  That’s why it was a big deal that people didn’t know where they were for 15 minutes that afternoon, he was already known to be not appropriate with the girl.  So yeah, she had, in fact, suggested things to him and to others about misconduct.  Lying again to paint Mia as a crazy bitch.

Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.

The illogic of the scenario would make it a perfect time to perpetrate an attack, because it wouldn’t be believed.  Furthermore, child abusers and sexual misbehavior is not logical.  And again, his behavior up to this point was clearly grooming for molestation, he’d already embarked on his career long before the incident in the attic.

Notwithstanding, Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined.

Dylan insisted she had been abused and the other people in the house at the time corroborated the story.  Mia, a concerned mother, took her daughter to a doctor to see if she was OK, not to the police to press charges.

Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested.  Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story.

Dylan was uncomfortable telling a stranger about her “privates,” so the doctor asked them to come back another day, so she could become more comfortable with it.

The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn’t.

The police asked Allen to take a polygraph and he refused — he took it for his own attorneys.  The Connecticut State Police refused to accept it as evidence.  Likewise, Mia Farrow was not asked by police to take a polygraph, only by Allen for his attorneys.  Of course she refused to take a test administered by people working for him.  Furthermore, polygraphs are notoriously unreliable.

Last week a woman named Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue. Stacey refused. I include this anecdote so we all know what kind of character we are dealing with here. One can imagine in learning this why she wouldn’t take a lie-detector test.

Stacey Nelkin was a 17-year-old high school student and Woody Allen was decades older than her when they dated.  That is fairly disturbing as part of his pattern (his first wife was 16 when they married), I can understand why Mia wanted her to testify.  And again, the lie-detector test she refused to test was one that would be administered by Woody Allen’s defense team, not by the police.  So is Mia Farrow a crazy bitch, or just seeing a pattern of behavior from Allen and trying to get someone to testify to that effect and refusing to help Allen’s defense team?

Meanwhile the Connecticut police turned for help to a special investigative unit they relied on in such cases, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. This group of impartial, experienced men and women whom the district attorney looked to for guidance as to whether to prosecute, spent months doing a meticulous investigation, interviewing everyone concerned, and checking every piece of evidence. Finally they wrote their conclusion which I quote here: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992… In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow. While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Could it be any clearer? Mr. Allen did not abuse Dylan; most likely a vulnerable, stressed-out 7-year-old was coached by Mia Farrow. This conclusion disappointed a number of people. The district attorney was champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case, and Justice Elliott Wilk, the custody judge, wrote a very irresponsible opinion saying when it came to the molestation, “we will probably never know what occurred.”

But we did know because it had been determined and there was no equivocation about the fact that no abuse had taken place.

The investigators did a job that was so terrible that current child abuse experts decry it as a terrible injustice to Dylan and the custody judge dismissed it as not credible because they’d destroyed their notes and refused to testify.  That Allen’s only source is something that even the doctor of the report now agrees was a bad job says a lot about the quality of his argument.

Justice Wilk was quite rough on me and never approved of my relationship with Soon-Yi, Mia’s adopted daughter, who was then in her early 20s.

I hate, hate, hate the way that people interpret “adopted” as “not her real.” Soon-Yi is Mia’s daughter.  Soon-Yi is the sister of Allen’s children.  And it’s extremely weaselly to define her as in her early 20s, when she was 19 when the affair started.  Justice Wilk was justifiably squicked out by the fact that the man who had been Mia’s consort for 12 years and gone on family vacations for months at a time targeted an isolated girl nearly 40 years younger than him.  Let me quote from the opinion:

Mr. Allen’s deficiencies as a custodial parent are magnified by his affair with Soon-Yi.  As Ms. Farrow’s companion, he was a frequent visitor at Soon-Yi’s home.  He accompanied the Farrow-Previns on extended family vacations and he is the father of Soon-Yi’s siblings, moses, Dylan and Satchel.  The fact that Mr. Allen ignored Soon-Yi for ten years cannot change the nature of the family constellation and does not create a distance sufficient to convert their affair into a benign relationship between two consenting adults.

Mr. Allen admits that he never considered the consequences of his behavior with Soon-Yi.  Dr. Coates and Dr. Brodzinsky testified that Mr. Allen still fails to understand that what he did was wrong.  Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system.  He had no consideration for the consequences to her, to Ms. Farrow, to the Previn children for whom he cared little, or to his own children for whom he professes love.

Mr. Allen’s response to Dylan’s claim of sexual abuse was an attack upon Ms. Farrow, whose parenting ability and emotional stability he impugned without the support of any significant credible evidence.  His trial strategy has been to separate his children from their brothers and sisters; to turn the children against their mother; to divide adopted children from biological children; to incite the family against their household help; and to set household employees against each other.  His self-absorption, his lack of judgment, and his commitment to the continuation of his divisive assault, thereby impeding the healing of the injuries he has already caused, warrant a careful monitoring of his future contact with the children.

To which Allen says:

He thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19.

Either Allen has terrible reading comprehension skills or still doesn’t understand why people are bothered by his relationship with the sister of his children.  Justice Wilk is not bothered by the fact that Allen was older than Soon-Yi, he is bothered by the fact that Allen seems to think it’s appropriate for a girl to grow up with a man who is her mother’s long term partner and the father of her siblings and for that girl to then be predated on by this adult father-figure while he is still in a relationship with her mother.  That Allen cannot grasp why people are horrified by this speaks to a disrespect for his children, a disrespect for adoption, and an extreme disrespect for cultural norms around behavior around those he was meant to protect, not to exploit.

Furthermore, he is again making it about Mia Farrow’s behavior, which is completely irrelevant to his own.

In fairness to Justice Wilk, the public felt the same dismay over Soon-Yi and myself, but despite what it looked like our feelings were authentic and we’ve been happily married for 16 years with two great kids, both adopted. (Incidentally, coming on the heels of the media circus and false accusations, Soon-Yi and I were extra carefully scrutinized by both the adoption agency and adoption courts, and everyone blessed our adoptions.)

Because there weren’t charges, of course he was allowed to adopt.  That’s an irrelevant piece of data.  Again, it is clear that he doesn’t understand the origin of the dismay.

Mia took custody of the children and we went our separate ways.

No.  Incorrect.  Mia had uninterrupted custody of the children and did not lose it to Allen’s spurious lawsuit.  Mia kept custody of the children.  And she did so because of a lengthy trial and opinion offered by a judge.  Allen was forced to pay Mia’s legal fees, over $1 million, because all of his suits were ridiculous. Again, he is trying to imply that Mia was doing something vindictive.

I was heartbroken. Moses was angry with me. Ronan I didn’t know well because Mia would never let me get close to him from the moment he was born and Dylan, whom I adored and was very close to and about whom Mia called my sister in a rage and said, “He took my daughter, now I’ll take his.” I never saw her again nor was I able to speak with her no matter how hard I tried. I still loved her deeply, and felt guilty that by falling in love with Soon-Yi I had put her in the position of being used as a pawn for revenge.

The custody suit reveals that Allen admitted to having no interest in the children or their lives, despite encouragement from Mia.  Again he is trying to make this about how Mia was upset that Allen, father of her children, was cheating on her with her daughter.  As though that response is irrational or necessitates Mia being vindictive rather than just extremely upset at grotesque behavior taking advantage of her child.

Soon-Yi and I made countless attempts to see Dylan but Mia blocked them all, spitefully knowing how much we both loved her but totally indifferent to the pain and damage she was causing the little girl merely to appease her own vindictiveness.

He and Soon-Yi shouldn’t have been making attempts to see Dylan, who was trying to recover from abuse, or at the very least, believing she was abused.  That he was so persistent in trying to see her rather than allowing her to heal is extremely disturbing.  The pain and damage was being caused by his inability to leave her alone.  Again, he is making it all about Mia.  As though he is not responsible for causing this by beginning an affair with his daughter’s sister.

Here I quote Moses Farrow, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old and a family therapist by profession. “Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he said. “She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.” Dylan was 7, Ronan 4, and this was, according to Moses, the steady narrative year after year.

Moses offers the most credible witness here, and I see no reason to doubt his observations.  He could theoretically have ulterior motives, but there’s no reason to assume that.  The judge didn’t see things this way, nor do the other children.  That said, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a teenager in a house where your father has run off with one sister, and another sister is claiming to have been sexually assaulted, and the mother is extremely upset by both of these.

This also presents the absurd idea that those who are sexually abused do not love their abusers.  That’s one of the most difficult parts of incest, in Dylan’s own words, she just thought it was a thing that fathers did with their daughters.  In fact, abusers often use this exact language to justify what they’ve done.  She might have only been 7, but she clearly enjoyed it and wanted to spend time with me, therefore my behavior wasn’t inappropriate.

And now we get to the only part of the piece that made me absolutely furious.

I pause here for a quick word on the Ronan situation. Is he my son or, as Mia suggests, Frank Sinatra’s? Granted, he looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features, but if so what does this say? That all during the custody hearing Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son? Even if he is not Frank’s, the possibility she raises that he could be, indicates she was secretly intimate with him during our years. Not to mention all the money I paid for child support. Was I supporting Frank’s son? Again, I want to call attention to the integrity and honesty of a person who conducts her life like that.

This is completely inappropriate and reveals the depths to which Allen doesn’t understand fatherhood, biological and no-biological children, how family works, how to treat children, or basic human decency extended to children.  It doesn’t matter whose sperm created Ronan, Allen is Ronan’s father.  He raised him as his son.  That bond shouldn’t be made irrelevant because of biology — but as we know, he thinks biology makes it OK for him to sleep with his girlfriend’s child.

This is just a further attempt to discredit Mia, but now he’s throwing away his own son in doing so.  And unlike his discussion of Dylan, there’s no indication that he cares at all about Ronan or is sad that his son believes the accusation.  What is wrong with Allen that Ronan’s parentage would allow him to treat him as irrelevant and unimportant except insofar as he might be evidence that Mia is unreliable.  Would Allen really have removed child support for the child he and Mia decided to have together and he raised just because of Mia’s behavior?  Talk about punishing the wrong party.  WHO CARES IF YOU WERE SUPPORTING FRANK’S SON, HE’S YOUR SON TOO.  How immature, petty, and selfish is this man?

I can’t even begin to express how upsetting I find this.  How about the integrity and honesty and decency of Woody Allen?  How about treating your children as more than pawns in your game of destroying Mia?

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.

“Creative flourishes” “magically appeared,” way to call her a liar — which he’ll follow up with removing any kind of self-determination from Dylan by saying she believes her own lies.  Is she confused or creative?  Her story hasn’t actually changed in 21 years.

Not that I doubt Dylan hasn’t come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root? Is it any wonder the experts at Yale had picked up the maternal coaching aspect 21 years ago?

The complaints of improper behavior began when Dylan was a toddler, so she wasn’t taught this from the age of 7, it started well before that.  Again, it’s all Mia’s fault, Dylan, the young woman who is far older than Soon-Yi was when he decided she was adult enough to be his lover, is apparently not capable of knowing her own mind.  When Dylan speaks of what happened to her, she doesn’t use the language of monstrosity, she talks of a relationship with her father that she thought was normal.

Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic.” It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, “Beware of Young Girls.”

Mia didn’t introduce the idea of the attic, Dylan did.  And Woody’s story around the attic changed as it became clear that the police had evidence that he’d been in it.  At first he denied having gone in it at all, and then they found hair, so he said he’d peaked in, and then they found fingerprints, and so he said he’d gone in and left quickly.  The rest of this is just more nonsense intended to discredit Mia for her personal relationships and to cast doubt on her fitness as a mother and human being.

One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.

Seriously, Allen thinks an independent woman in her late 20s, who has moved on with her life, is passing off her mother’s writing as her own?  Why?  Is this meant to make us think that Allen is incredible paranoid?  How committed is he to the idea that, if he says it enough, people will agree that this is not about Dylan, it’s about Mia Farrow?  To deny her bodily autonomy in her childhood is terrible, to go on denying her autonomy in thought and action as an adult continues to be terrible.

And what shabby agenda is it that he thinks is being undertaken.  It is a woman asking for people to care about what happened to her and believe her.  She didn’t call for a boycott.  There may have been “palpable bitchery,” as Stephen King so nauseatingly described it, but that’s anger, not a demand for a specific behavior against Allen.  As agendas go, it definitely appears to be an agenda of, “Please believe me.”  Hardly spiteful.

After all, if speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan, she had already spoken out months earlier in Vanity Fair.

Allen’s spoken out about this before, how does speaking out on something once make it nonsensical to speak out at further length in the future.  This is just ridiculousness on his part.

Here I quote Moses Farrow again: “Knowing that my mother often used us as pawns, I cannot trust anything that is said or written from anyone in the family.” Finally, does Mia herself really even believe I molested her daughter? Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

Alright, so she’s a spiteful, vindictive, crazy bitch, but she’s clearly not so vindictive that she’ll refuse to allow clips to be used by others in projects related to Allen, so therefore she is lying.  Got it.  Why wouldn’t she give consent for it to be used?  I don’t even begin to understand this logic?  And what does it have to do with anything?  Why is this about Mia, again?

Of course, I did not molest Dylan.

Finally, he actually denies the accusation.  I believe it’s perfectly possible that Allen believes this to be true, even if he did what Dylan accused him of.  He is clearly incapable of taking responsibility for any of his bad behavior or feeling bad about questionable sexual behavior.

I loved her…

Interesting use of the past tense.

…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.

Way to make it about Mia again.  What an awesome dad you are, to not say anything about your daughter before twisting it to be about her mom.  Who is the vindictive one?  The person who cheated Dylan out of a loving father was Allen, the minute he decided to fuck her teenage sister.  Is Allen pathologically unable to accept responsibility for his behavior?

Being taught to hate your father and made to believe he molested you has already taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman, and Soon-Yi and I are both hoping that one day she will understand who has really made her a victim and reconnect with us, as Moses has, in a loving, productive way.

It is incredibly unhealthy for him to demand that anyone in the family accept his and Soon-Yi relationship.  He violated the family trust in doing so.  Some people will be able to move on from it, but he is the one who betrayed the family and caused the psychological damage.  The fact that he will not own it is reprehensible.

No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing. (This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.)

This entire defense is basically “scorned bitches be crazy.”  If he didn’t do it, why isn’t he more vehemently addressing the charges himself?  Why isn’t he talking about how such behavior is morally repugnant to him?  Why is he blaming everything on Mia Farrow, when his own behavior was so very clearly inappropriate, even without taking into account the attic accusation?  Why isn’t he admitting to the possibility that, knowing his on the record history of inappropriate behavior with Dylan, that she misinterpreted something or came up with the story on her own when exposed to the idea that he was being sexually intimate with her big sister — why does it have to be Mia’s fault?

Because Allen’s entire strategy in light of the accusation has been to try to pain Mia as a terrible person.  It’s an incredibly effective tactic.  By starting a custody battle the minute he was accused, he managed to create enough doubt around the accusations that much of the public just sees it as he-said, she-said, fight for the kids, despite his known behavior.  The tragedy is that he will not make it about Dylan and her happiness and her needs, but only about his own selfish needs.  To him, this is about hurting Mia Farrow, protecting himself, and hurting his own children to accomplish that — not about helping his daughter.

Where’s his public letter reaching out to his children?  Where’s his apology for destroying their family?  None of that exists, because nothing is important to Woody Allen except Woody Allen.