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An open letter from Dylan Farrow

Nicholas Kristof publishes it on his blog.

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.

But he’s Woody Allen, so…he gets a Golden Globe lifetime achievement award.

Comments

  1. captainahags says

    I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate how my first thought after reading this is “Gee, I wonder how many thousands of accusations there’ve been that she’s making it all up?”

  2. says

    A sin? Hell no.

    I think Interiors made me hyper-critical even of ones I had originally liked, which would be most of them up through Annie Hall. But either way, after that the self-regard broke through, and I went right off him. Then once he married his partner’s daughter…yeah no.

  3. says

    I never thought he was funny, either. I never did understand why he received so much acclaim.

    Normally, if I heard this kind of story about someone famous, even somebody I didn’t much like, I would tend to dismiss the story as lacking evidence. However, in the case of Woody Allen, it rings true to what we already know of him. So I’m not ready to dismiss.

  4. wannabe says

    Just so you guys know, there’s more than one side to this story.

    The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast

    Moses Farrow [adopted son of Mia and Woody], now 36, and an accomplished photographer, has been estranged from Mia for several years. During a recent conversation, he spoke of “finally seeing the reality” of Frog Hollow [home where the alleged abuse took place] and used the term “brainwashing” without hesitation. He recently reestablished contact with Allen and is currently enjoying a renewed relationship with him and Soon-Yi.

    In fact, [Mia Farrow's] support of [Roman] Polanski is so steadfast that when he won the Oscar for best director for his 2002 masterpiece, The Pianist, Mia never even suggested that the Motion Picture Academy showed contempt for all abuse survivors in so honoring him.

  5. Al Dente says

    Considering Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, I have no problem believing Dylan’s story.

    I know Allen and Previn are legally married. However a 56 year old man having a sexual relationship with his partner’s adopted 19 year old daughter seems pretty creepy to me.

  6. Bernard Bumner says

    Considering Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, I have no problem believing Dylan’s story.

    I know Allen and Previn are legally married. However a 56 year old man having a sexual relationship with his partner’s adopted 19 year old daughter seems pretty creepy to me.

    Creepy – well, I’d instinctively agree. But I don’t accept that it is very relevant to the accusations of child sexual abuse. A 19-year-old is not a child, and certainly isn’t in the same class as a young, prepubescent 7-year-old.

    The allegations are credible on their own. The conflation of the creepy relationship with Soon-Yi with the story told by Dylan simply further serves to muddy the waters, since the marriage of an older man to younger woman who also the adopted daughter of his ex-girlfriend is unusual but clearly not illegal or much more than ethically dubious. Dylan’s story is utterly believable without passing judgement on Allen’s current wife of sixteen years.

    It isn’t fair for the world to tell Soon-Yi that she must have been abused and exploited. We don’t know.

  7. Decker says

    Allen’s realtionship with Soon Yi Previn is a disgrace.

    Soon Yi is far from being the sharpest tool in the shed, and so when she was a teenager, she was probably, very easy to manipulate.

    If you raise a girl as your adopted DAUGHTER, and you begin to have sexual relations with her as soon as she’s barely legal, then you’re a complete perv.

  8. sailor1031 says

    The hell with Woody Allen’s fucked-up private life and predilections, and the hell with his unfunny movies; it’s his truly horrible clarinet playing that I cannot stand…..

  9. Bernard Bumner says

    Soon Yi is far from being the sharpest tool in the shed

    That is just offensive bullshit. The language is glib and unnecessary, and you don’t know her to form and express that opinion in even in the nicest terms. Fuck off.

    …so when she was a teenager, she was probably, very easy to manipulate.

    Probably? Who knows. She is now a 43-year-old woman and you are attacking her because you don’t like her husband.

    If you raise a girl as your adopted DAUGHTER, and you begin to have sexual relations with her as soon as she’s barely legal, then you’re a complete perv.

    Barely legal? That is the language of the tabloids and pornographers. She was of age to legally consent, because society judges that generally people are competent to act autonomously and with care for their own self interests at the age of majority. We have no idea – not you, not me – of how their relationship was conducted and what those dynamics were.

    She was not Allen’s adopted daughter – had she been, then the relationship would have been illegal. It isn’t clear how much a part of her earlier life Allen was. You simply have no insight, and yet you’re passing judgement on her.

    Allen’s realtionship with Soon Yi Previn is a disgrace.

    She is a middle-aged woman in an apparently happy marriage of 16 years to an older man. Our squeamisness about that age difference should not lead us to assume misdeeds in the absence of actual allegations. That would be wrong, because it also harms her.

  10. carlie says

    I really wish he hadn’t decided to preface it with this:

    It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence.

    Just remember, he says he didn’t do it, so bitches might be lyin’. Just wanna get that out there in your mind before you even start to read what she wrote.

  11. carlie says

    wannabe – you know that the guy who wrote that story is a friend of Allen’s who has just done a movie about him and is trying to drum up excitement for it, right?

  12. wannabe says

    carlie wrote:

    you know that the guy who wrote that story is a friend of Allen’s who has just done a movie about him and is trying to drum up excitement for it, right?

    Yes, he mentions it in the second paragraph, and elsewhere in the story.

    I also know that many of the children in the day-care sex-abuse hysteria of the 1980s and ’90s, as adults still believe that they were horribly victimized even though most of them probably weren’t. And that nobody was lying about that, then or now.

  13. Decker says

    @Bernard B.

    Tabloid language is far better than barking obscenities.

    Soon Yi suffered severe malnutrition as a child and it had an impact on her mental developement.

    Woody and Mia became an item back in 1980.

    At that time Soon Yi was only 7 or 8.

    No he didn’t legally adopt her, but he certainly helped raise her as a step-daughter.

    That he would engage in sexual relations with her soon after she became an adult is therefore quite disgusting…tabloid material.

  14. says

    Decker 15:

    Tabloid language is far better than barking obscenities.

    [citation needed.]

    Soon Yi suffered severe malnutrition as a child and it had an impact on her mental developement.

    Ah. As her lifelong psychiatrist, you have a unique and keen insight into the mental state of a now-middle-aged woman married for 16 years. But aren’t you breaking confidentiality laws by telling us about that?

    That he would engage in sexual relations with her soon after she became an adult is therefore quite disgusting…tabloid material.

    Consent: how does it work?

    You know, I really take issue with this notion that a 19-year old woman is assumed to be incapable of deciding for herself whether and with whom to have sex. It’s infantilizing, and fuels classic misogynist memes like “bitches be stoopid” and “bitches don’t know what’s good for them.” Many people, myself included, had relationships with much older lovers at that age. Does that indicate some problem with our mental development? Or because you personally find such relationships “disgusting” and feel the need to continue expressing that here say something about you?

    Stop doing that. Or, as Bernard put it so perfectly: fuck off.

  15. Bernard Bumner says

    Tabloid language is far better than barking obscenities.

    No. It isn’t. Particularly sharpest tool in the shed. That is quite a derogatory playground term, and you could have made the same point but easily avoided the language. Don’t degrade an innocent bystander for the sake of scoring easy points.

    Soon Yi suffered severe malnutrition as a child and it had an impact on her mental development.

    Possibly so, although she does have a degree which would tend to suggest that she is not learning disabled.

    You are still speculating about her mental capacity in a manner which is not compassionate, and seems to be based on your dislike of her husband and distaste at the circumstances in which their relationship began.

    No he didn’t legally adopt her, but he certainly helped raise her as a step-daughter.

    Allen claims that he never lived with Mia Farrow, didn’t have any real contact with Soon-Yi as a child, and that he did not consider Soon-Yi to be stepdaughter and she did not consider him to be a father figure. I don’t know whether that is true. Nor do you.

    There are people who support both sides and no very clear evidence for either, as far as I can tell.

    That he would engage in sexual relations with her soon after she became an adult is therefore quite disgusting…

    Two adults engaging in sexual relations is not disgusting, not unless he really did exploit a vulnerable adult. That may have happened, but we don’t know. What we do know is that they have been married for 16 years and are apparently content.

    As it is, you are passing judgement on her. That is not fair.

  16. S Mukherjee says

    Hey, wait a minute — what is this twisting and turning to defend Woody Allen’s ‘relationship’ with Soon-Yi? He was a part of her household as a father-figure since when she was a few years old, and then the affair was made public almost as soon as she attained voting age — do you REALLY think that this is a perfectly consensual partnership of equal adults? Are you also okay with the ‘relationship’ of Mary Kay LeTourneau with her young pupil, who is now an adult?

    Soon-Yi’s intellectual abilities should not be coming into this at all — it is all too easy to manipulate and groom any youngster.

    And yes, we can use this particular instance to form our opinions of Allen’s character and Dylan’s accusation. Sexual abusers and predators show a pattern of such behaviour.

  17. miraxpath says

    Woody Allen’s relationship with Soon Yi Previn threw up red flags for me and I was a teenager myself when that icky story broke. But let’s not drag her into this. This is about Dylan Farrow. I believe her. I hope she gets justice but I know that is futile.

  18. medivh says

    Wait, wait, wait… let me get this story straight.

    On one side, we have a woman who reports sexual assaults that happened to her as a child, and that are in line with the kind paedophilic grooming that the man she names as her attacker has been caught doing. While the woman in question has an axe to grind, it seems to be the axe she’s actually grinding and not some unrelated axe. Apparently some people find this unconvincing, but I’d need that one explained to me.

    On the other side, we have a bloke who is friends with the named attacker. His defence of his friend is “well, his victim didn’t have a problem with this other pedo so she must be lying about being attacked.” How is this convincing again?

    In related news, for people who think Woody Allen didn’t attack anyone, would you be interested in a bridge? I have one for sale. Cheap, too! It’s taking up too much of my time dealing with the tolls, you know.

  19. johnthedrunkard says

    The positions taken here show every sign of being immunized against evidence. medivh, that means you.

    The Daily Beast article raises points that are not addressed at all in the notes above.

    We have NO reason to believe that Soon Yi is mentally inferior.
    We do know that Mia Farrow herself has a history of affairs with MUCH older men.
    We know that Farrow’s own brother is a convicted pedophile.
    We know that the accusations emerged during a vicious break-up and during the midst of the Satanic Abuse mania.

    We also know that the whole relationship with Soon Yi gives us the collective habdabs.
    We also know that Woody Allen’s character is kept deeply guarded, and is almost certainly quite a bit darker than we might wish.

    We don’t know, and Mia Farrow’s behavior is nearly as bizarre as her accusations. It is a hideously uncomfortable position to have accusations this bad frozen and untestable.

  20. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    This is not about Mia fucking Farrow. This is about Dylan Farrow, a grown woman, accusing her father of rape. Don’t talk to me about Mia Farrow’s problems. Tell me why you’re working so hard to disbelieve Dylan.

    And you’re goddammned RIGHT Allen’s marriage to his former stepdaughter is a predictor of other skeevy behavior. What bloody planet are you defenders living on? How is this not SCREAMINGLY OBVIOUS TO YOU?

  21. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Bernard, I am seriously disappointed and shocked at your response. It’s like you encased your ordinarily sensible head in concrete blinders. Dude, really?

  22. says

    Wow…it’s weird seeing people defend Allen’s choice of his long-term partner’s adopted daughter, out of all the women in the world, to start having sekrit sex with.

    I think Kristof phrased it badly and stupidly with “he deserves the presumption of innocence.” I don’t think he does “deserve” that. On the other hand I think there’s reason for caution, or suspension of judgement, or something along those lines. That’s because of the nature of memory. Memory is very unreliable, and can be shaped and outright created, by accident as well as on purpose, and that’s further complicated by the fact that most people don’t realize how unreliable and malleable memory is and that one’s own memories feel reliable.

    I’m leery of saying that because it may seem to be just more “bitches by lyin” but it just is how it is.

    But is it just obvious that Woody Allen couldn’t possibly have done such a thing? Uh, no.

  23. says

    I’ve just remembered (uh, oops – right after I mention the unreliability of memory – but still, this is part of the record somewhere) something from then, when it was first in the news & gossip. Some friends of both said that with or without actual molestation, Allen was consistently inappropriate around Dylan, especially in the sense that he singled her out for attention AT THE EXPENSE OF ALL THE OTHER CHILDREN. He basically ignored all of them except his own with Farrow, and Dylan. He was a shit. A heedless, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, selfish shit. A horrible kind of “parent” – one with no clue that you don’t make a pet of one child while ignoring the others. Mr Deep Thinker, Mr Sensitive – please.

  24. RJW says

    Allen has the right to the presumption of innocence. Yes, indeed, memory is unreliable, the “Recovered Memory Syndrome” mania occurred only a few decades ago.

    Parents who demonstrably favor one child over others will usually regret it, sometimes years later, curiously the parents often seem surprised that their less favored children are resentful.

  25. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    As far as the law goes and protection from discrimination, of course he has a right to the presumption of innocence. But when it comes to personal opinion and interpersonal relationships? No one deserves that. Trust is built as a mutual activity; you don’t just get declared worthy of it due to the lack of a conviction. I owe Woody Allen no presumption of innocence whatsoever.

    I have no power to harm him, I cannot convict him of anything, but I can hold an unfavorable opinion of him and be strongly suspicious of him. He has all the rights of any other person, but he deserves nothing from me.

  26. Bernard Bumner says

    @Josh,

    I’m obviously not making myself clear.

    1) I believe Dylan. (I think that is the most important point, and therefore I’m going to try not to labour my own defence beyond this comment.)

    2) I’m not defending Allen. He has a history of treating people badly – partners, family, and friends. Personally, I find his relationship with Soon-Yi creepy, certainly at the beginning. But that is really based on narrative building and instinct, and not on any evidence.

    3) I am defending Soon-Yi. She shouldn’t be attacked – directly (and repugnantly) as not the sharpest tool or indirectly, by accusing a 43-year-old woman of not having agency or competence (now, or when she was 19). That is unfair.

    Anything in my comments above which is at odds with these statements is probably due to a lack of clarity, but I also happy to explain. However, I would like to reiterate – I believe Dylan, and it is her story which is most important here, and I don’t wish to derail or detract from that.

  27. RJW says

    “That’s not a real right. It doesn’t exist.”

    Really? The implication from that is, that lynchings are legal as the unfortunate subject of rough “justice” is not entitled to the presumption of innocence outside of the courtroom.

    Members of the public, who are not on the jury, are entitled to an opinion, as to an individual’s guilt or innocence, and they have the right to express it, however they would be prosecuted if they ignored the accused’s right to presumed innocence by administering their own form of justice.

  28. Bernard Bumner says

    @RJW

    It doesn’t even remotely imply that.

    Lynchings are illegal whether judicially sanctioned or extrajudicial. Extrajudicial prosecution and punishment is illegal (unless you happen to be the government). Vigilantism is illegal, even if the victim has broken the law.

    People form opinions about the guilt and innocence of others all the time, and they are not breaching human rights in doing so.

  29. Al Dente says

    There’s a common misconception that “innocent until proven guilty” has relevance outside a court room. In this particular case, Dylan Farrow has accused her adoptive father of raping her when she was a child. Most of the commentators on this thread believe Dylan even though Allen has not been legally charged, let alone convicted. If Allen is brought before a court on a charge of raping Dylan then the judge and jury have to assume he’s innocent until the jury verdict is announced. But since we’re neither judge nor jury, we can come individually to a conclusion about Allen’s guilt or innocence before any trial is held.

  30. artymorty says

    @27 Ophelia

    Yes, that’s correct. Maureen Orth, who wrote the bombshell 1992 Vanity Fair article about the case, “had at least 25 on-the-record interviews—with sources both named and unnamed—attesting that Allen was ‘completely obsessed’ with Dylan: ‘He could not seem to keep his hands off her,’ ” (via)

    Apparently, Woody Allen’s behaviour towards Dylan had gotten so bad that he was in therapy for it. From Maureen Orth’s follow-up profile of Mia & Ronan Farrow from this past November:

    Only a month earlier, in December 1991, Allen had formally adopted two of Mia’s children, 15-year-old Moses and 7-year-old Dylan, even though he was in therapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan.

    And let’s not forget that the relationship between Woody and Soon-Yi only came to light after Mia found pornographic pictures of Soon-Yi in Woody Allen’s bedroom. (If I recall correctly, Soon-Yi was only 18 when the pictures were discovered.)

  31. says

    Thanks arty – I was just reading that Vanity Fair article, because someone else linked to it on Facebook. I’m pretty sure I read it at the time or maybe a few years after (I associate it with a place where I wasn’t living until ’95), but that’s a bit mystifying because I don’t read VF. It’s very familiar though. Puzzling. I guess I must have sought it out, and that doesn’t puzzle me, because the subject definitely interested me. The particular kind of culture hero Woody Allen was, and the ways I had started disliking his narcissism, made it interesting. If there had been such a thing as blogs then and I had had one, I would have done about fifty posts on it.

  32. says

    I got one thing wrong that was in that article – Ronan/Satchel wasn’t an exception along with Dylan; Allen pretty much hated him.

    There’s a telling passage in the article:

    He called Mia a “spoilsport” when she objected to what she referred to as “wooing.” Mia has told people that he said that her concerns were her own sickness, and that he was just being warm. For a long time, Mia backed down. Her love for Woody had always been mixed with fear. He could reduce her to a pulp when he gave vent to his temper, but she was also in awe of him, because he always presented himself as “a morally superior person.”

    Exactly. He always did and still does present himself as a morally superior person. He’s not one.

  33. artymorty says

    And it wasn’t just friends and family who noticed Allen’s behaviour towards Dylan. Psychiatric experts agreed:

    In his June 1993 ruling, Wilk also denied Allen any visitation rights with Dylan or his older adopted child with Farrow, 15-year-old Moses. In May 1994, in a hearing considering custody or increased visitation for Allen, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court cited a “clear consensus” among psychiatric experts involved in the case that Allen’s “interest in Dylan was abnormally intense.

    And in their May 1994 decision, the judges of the New York appellate court held that, with regard to the events of Aug. 4, 1992, “the testimony given at trial by the individuals caring for the children that day, the videotape of Dylan made by Ms. Farrow the following day and the accounts of Dylan’s behavior toward Mr. Allen both before and after the alleged instance of abuse, suggest that the abuse did occur.” Although “the evidence in support of the allegations remains inconclusive,” the court stated, “our review of the record militates against a finding that Ms. Farrow fabricated the allegations without any basis.”

  34. artymorty says

    @36

    Ugh, so he gaslighted Mia when she expressed concerns. Manipulative, abusive, disgusting.

  35. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @artymorty

    She was 15 or 16 when he took those nude photos of Soon-Yi and left them out for Mia to find. According to Mia, he told her if she burned the photos they could forget about the whole thing and stay together. She refused.

  36. artymorty says

    @42,

    That looks to me more like Manzie Tio Allen, Woody and Soon-Yi’s daughter. Is there a source for that photo?

  37. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @43
    People have been posting it all over as a photo of Woody and Soon-Yi.
    I looked up Manzie Tio and it does look like her a bit.
    So I’m not completely sure now. :|

    One thing I find annoying is some people keep insisting Soon-Yi wasn’t Woody’s adopted daughter, and that Woody and Mia were never married, so it wasn’t inappropriate for him to have a sexual relationship with her, then marry her.

    Didn’t Woody sue for custody of all his ‘non-kids’, including Soon-Yi’s siblings?

  38. artymorty says

    Woody’s wearing the same hat in other photos with Manzie, so I think it’s safe to assume that’s Soon-Yi’s daughter in the photo.

  39. RJW says

    @33 Bernard Bumner,

    “Lynchings are illegal whether judicially sanctioned or extrajudicial.”

    You’ve missed the point completely and haven’t considered the underlying principle, simply stating the obvious is not useful, why are lynchings illegal? What rights of the victim of a lynching are violated, the answer is obvious.

    “People form opinions about the guilt and innocence of others all the time, and they are not breaching human rights in doing so” –Straw man.

    Of course, read what I wrote earlier, like other commenters here, you’re confusing two principles, (1) the right to free speech and (2) the right to a fair trial. People have a right to express an opinion, however ill-informed, as to a citizen’s guilt or innocence, hopefully, juries are better informed.

  40. artymorty says

    RJW:

    “hopefully, juries are better informed.”

    Better still: judges.

    Like, for instance, the panel of New York appeals court judges who reviewed the evidence and found it substantial and persuasive enough to deny Allen custody of the child.

  41. Stacy says

    why are lynchings illegal? What rights of the victim of a lynching are violated

    Because only the state is allowed to administer justice. Especially the “killing people” part, which I hear tends to be illegal most of the time anyway.

    If a mob held their own trial and granted presumption of innocence and then lynched the accused after a verdict of guilty, that would still be illegal.

    Again: people have a right to presumption of innocence inside a courtroom. That’s because, in the words of the platitude, we’d rather let a hundred guilty people go free than imprison one innocent.

    That doesn’t mean anybody is entitled to the presumption of innocence outside the courtroom.

  42. medivh says

    @johnthedrunkard, #22:

    The positions taken here show every sign of being immunized against evidence. medivh, that means you.

    Starting with an ad-hom. Doesn’t look good…

    We have NO reason to believe that Soon Yi is mentally inferior.
    We do know that Mia Farrow herself has a history of affairs with MUCH older men.
    We know that Farrow’s own brother is a convicted pedophile.
    We know that the accusations emerged during a vicious break-up and during the midst of the Satanic Abuse mania.

    As has been pointed out in this thread, this is about Dylan Farrow, not Mia, and certainly not Soon Yi. The best that Mia and Soon Yi can contribute to this discussion is supporting evidence. “Mia knows other pedos” has no relation to “Dylan was raped by Woody Allen”.

    Please learn what evidence is before accusing others of being immunised against it.

    We also know that the whole relationship with Soon Yi gives us the collective habdabs.
    We also know that Woody Allen’s character is kept deeply guarded, and is almost certainly quite a bit darker than we might wish.

    We don’t know, and Mia Farrow’s behavior is nearly as bizarre as her accusations. It is a hideously uncomfortable position to have accusations this bad frozen and untestable.

    Funny thing; we don’t have to test someone’s experience to know that they experienced what they say they did. But none of this is evidence against Dylan Farrow’s claims. Worse, you admit that the priors for Allen raping are probably higher for those in the know than those with general knowledge.

    So again, how is Dylan Farrow’s story unconvincing? How is Welde’s anywhere near convincing?

  43. says

    RJW:

    Yes, indeed, memory is unreliable, the “Recovered Memory Syndrome” mania occurred only a few decades ago.

    You want people to presume Allen’s innocence, and then happily vomit this ^ crap out. There’s nothing wrong with my memory, and I certainly remember every single time I was raped as a child. That sort of thing has a way of impacting a person, you know. Sorta sticks in one’s memory.

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