The Woody Allen Case (Updated)

I do not know the parties at all.  I am not a big Woody Allen fan.  I am not a big Mia Farrow fan.

One way or another, Dylan Farrow has been through hell.  Either because Woody Allen did to her what she says, or because her mother has made her believe that he did that even though it didn’t happen.  I mean, those are the only two alternatives here, so that much is certain.

If I had to pick a side it would be Allen, for two very basic reasons:  no previous or subsequent similar allegations; and the fact (which I am trying to verify) that the allegations of abuse were not made until after Allen had started an affair with his current wife (Soon-Yi), which understandably greatly upset Mia Farrow for a lot of reasons.

I wouldn’t accuse anyone of “lying” here.  All parties may believe what they are saying even though they can’t all be right.  But this is a very good example of a case where you cannot be certain and you have to be comfortable with being uncertain.  When defense lawyers are asked:  how do you defend those you know are guilty? – this kind of situation is one very good answer.  Most of the time you don’t know.

Update:  Well, no wonder I was having trouble nailing down the timing of the first emergence of these allegations that Woody Allen sexually abused Dylan Farrow.  Look at the NYS Supreme Court opinion from 1993.  It bounces around from time to time and person to person in a somewhat chaotic fashion as it recites “fact findings”, which, in a case like this, it’s extremely important to get right.  There are some places in the opinion where the only time frame referred to for an important development or even is “…in 1990”.  Ugh.

In any case, it’s apparent that Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi began developing in 1990 when he started taking her to Knicks games.  The first independently verifiable* indication that Mia Farrow had concerns about Allen’s relationship with Dylan occurred in the fall of that year, with a therapist named Coates who opined:

I understood why she [Mia Farrow – ed.] was worried because it [Mr. Allen’s relationship with Dylan] was intense, …I did not see it as sexual, but I saw it as inappropriately intense because it excluded everybody else and it placed a demand on a child for a kind of acknowledgment that I felt should not be placed on a child…


So by the fall of 1990 Mia Farrow is expressing concerns to a therapist about Allen’s conduct with Dylan.  Whether the concern was that this conduct was of a sexual nature is not clear, at least from the opinion, though the possibility was considered and rejected by the therapist herself.  At roughly the same time a relationship is beginning between Allen and Soon-Yi, which apparently developed into something romantic no later than fall of 1991.  Again, during roughly this same time period, Dylan enters therapy with a Dr. Schultz in April of 1991, and was formally adopted by Allen, finalized by December, 1991.  It was just a few weeks later in the following month – January 13 of 1992 – that Mia Farrow learned that Allen had been romantically involved with Soon-Yi.

This led to a lot of strife in the Farrow-Allen-Polyglot household(s), obviously.

The molestation incident described in Dylan’s open letter allegedly occurred in early August of 1992, more than 7 months after Mia Farrow had definitively learned of Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi.  August 4th, I believe is the exact date but the opinion is frustratingly vague about it.  Dylan is alleged to have told her mother about it on August 5, the next day.  On August 6th Dylan saw a doctor and the report was made and presumably all hell broke loose.  On August 9th Dylan was examined and no evidence of sexual abuse was found.

The timeline undercuts (Doesn’t rule it out entirely, but undercuts it) the case against Allen, for two reasons:  

1)  He was openly involved with Soon-Yi and had been romantically involved with her for at least a year, probably longer.  He was in an acrimonious dispute with Mia Farrow for months.  It would seem bizarre beyond description that he would pick a time like that to molest his adopted 7 year old daughter.  

2)  Mia Farrow’s anger at Allen that had begun in earnest in January showed no signs of abating, and every indication of hardening and deepening by then.  This doesn’t mean she is “lying”, but it does make it more likely that she’s looking for horrible things to think and say about Allen.

Bottom line is, the allegations don’t add up. They’re not impossible, but they are very, very unlikely to be true.



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12 responses to “The Woody Allen Case (Updated)

  1. smh

    How come we’re not allowed to speculate that Dylan lied?


    • Well, I guess you can. I don’t see any reason to go there, but it’s a possibility.

      In situations where it isn’t necessary to accuse anyone of lying, I usually don’t.


  2. smh

    But the message in your second paragraph is that either WA or MF are lying, right?

    There’s another option, too. No one is lying.


  3. smh

    which is what you said. 🙂 [sorry, I forgot]


  4. smh

    Just ignore me please. Thanks.


  5. I also feel that the timeline is extremely important. Here are more details I’ve been gathering in case you’re interested:


    • Well, yes. Good link, although it may have more information than is really pertinent here.

      I would only emphasize that there’s a temptation to conclude that Mia Farrow is some kind of malicious lunatic, which may be true but isn’t necessarily true. She put together an unusual family with lots of adopted kids for reasons that appear to be admirable, but of course families like that also carry risks about boundaries and proprieties that it would be fair to say are more readily breached than in more traditional arrangements. That aside, I can imagine anyone in her position would be extremely upset over the Woody-Soon-Yi situation, and extremely upset people often lash out and are not entirely fair-mainded in doing so. I mean that’s just human nature.

      Bottom line is Woody Allen would not appear to be a child molester, but he’s not without fault in the situation he finds himself in, where he is accused of it.


      • Yes, I readily admit that I have erred on the side of possible information overload. A good deal of it is my fascination with the case and desire to explore different accusations and relationships.

        I fully agree with your assessment of Mia. In Allen’s version of this, she, intentionally or not, created an atmosphere of animosity toward Allen in her household. There is an interesting question here (to me at least): if it were the case that Mia implanted a false memory of molestation in her daughter, would she be culpable for molestation?

        Allen always maintained that he was astonished by Farrow’s reaction. I find his astonishment, if sincere, to be astonishing. Reading over everything, I couldn’t help thinking of Allen as the comedian version Camus’s Meursault.

        I would be curious to hear your impressions of the meaningfulness of the polygraph. Its validity has been questioned, but it appears to me to have been expertly conducted.


        • A) I don’t see how Mia Farrow or anyone else can be culpable for molestation unless they actually molested someone. If they intentionally and maliciously planted a false memory of being molested that might be considered abuse, I suppose, but as an off the cuff opinion I don’t like the idea, even apart from what would seem to me to be insurmountable proof problems.

          B) I don’t trust polygraphs either way. Seems to me good liars likely fool the machine, too. And for poor liars you don’t need the machine.


    • I think you’re harsh. Sometimes you have to be that way to get a point across, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it. To each his own, though.

      That said, parsing the open letter is pretty effective. I hadn’t noticed the defensiveness of her mother before, which in my experience is anomalous. It’s pretty common for a girl who was abused by her father to blame her mother for not stopping it, often unfairly or even viciously, with an intensity that you’d think would be more appropriately directed at the father.

      Anyway it’s a good post on your blog. I tend to agree with you overall, but I wouldn’t go calling her a “liar”. I don’t think she is, but that doesn’t mean what she’s saying is true.

      Liked by 1 person

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