THE RISE AND FAiL OF RONAN FARROW

by Rick Worley

detective_ronan_02f

Introduction by Robert Weide:

I don’t make a regular habit of handing this blog over to guest writers, but here we have a worthy exception. A couple of months ago, I stumbled across a YouTube video entitled, “By the Way… Woody Allen is Innocent” by Rick Worley, a writer, cartoonist, and movie geek best known for producing videos covering Star Wars esoterica. Worley’s Woody Allen video distilled much of my own research, along with the published accounts of Moses Farrow, Soon-Yi Previn, Woody Allen and any number of others who have researched and written extensively about the case, all connected with interstitial discoveries and insights from Worley himself. To date, the video has reached 67,000 views, which is impressive considering it has a running time of 2.5 hours. Before long, Worley and I had connected on the phone and started comparing notes.

In my previous writings about this case, I’ve said that no one essay could ever adequately cover this topic in full. Each piece feels like the tip of another iceberg. Worley admitted that even in creating his detailed video, he felt like he was only scratching the surface. We agreed that the most you can do, short of a book, is reveal one iceberg tip after another, and hope that a handful of people will connect enough dots to realize the narrative about Woody Allen pushed by the Farrows and indeed, the mainstream media, simply doesn’t hold water. The challenge in setting the record straight is you have at the center of this story a young woman who claims she was sexually assaulted at the age of seven. How do you expose the impossibility of that claim without sounding like one more jerk denying a young woman’s agency, or the often-virtuous aims of the #MeToo movement?

But my writing about this case and Worley’s intent behind his video have nothing to do with the MeToo movement, which we both support in principle. It has everything to do with making the case that an innocent man continues to be vilified for a crime he did not commit. To us, that’s still a worthy cause, regardless of how few people care to listen, or how many insults or death threats you acquire along the way.

Clearly, for the past few years, many people’s opinions about Woody Allen have been informed by the writing and statements of Ronan Farrow, whom we assume to be Woody Allen’s biological son (though Mia Farrow claims Ronan may “possibly” be the son of Frank Sinatra). But soon after Worley and I made contact, the floodgates started to open for other writers and reporters claiming that Farrow’s research was shoddy and his reporting was often uncorroborated and failed to meet basic journalistic standards.

(Here’s a sampling: Ben Smith in the NY Times, Matt Lauer on Mediaite, Erik Wemple in the Washington Post, John Levine in the NY Post, Jonathan Kay in Quillette, Peter Cohen in Quillette.)

Of course, much of Farrow’s fanbase couldn’t care less. The thinking seems to be that if Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein had a favorable outcome, it’s best not to pick it apart. But does a celebratory end always justify questionable means? Even if one’s reportage helps to put bad people away, ignoring facts and fundamental journalistic ethics is more than a slippery slope; it’s a perilous cliff.

Among the iceberg tips to choose from for a new essay, Worley and I decided on this one: How much of public sentiment about Woody Allen is based on Ronan Farrow’s statements and writing, and how reliable has that information been over the years? Worley and I decided we would consolidate our respective research; he would do the heavy lifting by writing the initial draft, and I would serve as editor. Among the research I would bring to the table were the complete transcripts of the infamous 1993 custody hearing in New York County Supreme Court: “Woody Allen vs Maria Villers (Mia) Farrow.” These transcripts are jaw-droppingly revealing in countless ways (a few brief excerpts are offered here), but that’s an iceberg for another day.

For those who would respond to this piece with, “But Woody Allen married his daughter” or “the judge said he did it,” we’re sorry, but we’ve both addressed those and countless other fallacies elsewhere, and since you didn’t bother reading it the first time, we’re not going to reiterate it here. One iceberg at a time.

I’ll close with this thought: When the publication of Woody Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing was announced, Ronan and Dylan Farrow cried “foul,” complaining that they weren’t given the opportunity to fact check it before publication. Of course, that claim is too ridiculous to even counter. What’s interesting is that there have been so many specific critical facts brought to light that Ronan and Dylan have had an opportunity to respond to, but instead, they become tellingly silent. For instance, when Moses Farrow concisely states that the functioning electric train set in the attic that Dylan claims to have watched all during the alleged assault never existed, or when Woody Allen says that Ronan’s leg surgery was purely cosmetic to add height, and not the result of treating an unnamed “bug” caught in the Sudan, the Farrows never counter. They offer generic blanket statements along the lines of “I believe my sister,” or “We stand by our mother.” Fine, but what about that train? What about the surgery? What about any number of damning charges they could put to rest? Crickets. The recent spate of articles accusing Ronan Farrow of journalistic misdeeds have been met with the same kind of responses. “I stand by my story.” Really, Ronan? As they say on the streets of New York, “Is that all you got?”

Yes, Ronan Farrow received a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Weinstein, but we’re living in a world where Rush Limbaugh got the Presidential Medal of Freedom, so let’s just admit we’ve stepped through the looking glass, even if we’re all glad that Weinstein is now in prison following a jury verdict. After two lengthy State-sponsored investigations, Woody Allen was never even charged.

I’ll cut Farrow some slack, and refrain from suggesting that he’s a bald-faced liar. He may just be a really mediocre journalist.

Cheers,
Robert B. Weide
July 21, 2020

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THE RISE AND FAiL OF RONAN FARROW

By Rick Worley

Over the past couple of months, there has been a small explosion of articles suddenly questioning the honesty and accuracy of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow’s reportage. Certainly, it’s better late than never, but for those of us who have followed Farrow’s comments on Woody Allen over the years, the obvious response is: Welcome to the club. What took you so long?

The recent spate of articles pointing out the factual errors, unchecked sources, and a general willingness to bend the truth that provide the foundation of much of Farrow’s work seem to have largely steered clear of Allen. The likely reason for this is obvious: many now think that Allen is a monster, and they simply aren’t interested in any article that would question his guilt. But for a lot of those people, a huge part of the reason they feel this way about Allen is due to disingenuous statements from Farrow and associates – the same kinds of statements these articles are finally questioning. For anyone interested in examples of Farrow twisting the facts, they’re missing the mother lode if they ignore his ongoing “reporting” about the events allegedly taking place under his own roof.

Let’s start with a quick example from Farrow in 2014:

“I believe my sister. This was always true as a brother who trusted her, and, even at 5 years old, was troubled by our father’s strange behavior around her: climbing into her bed in the middle of the night, forcing her to suck his thumb — behavior that had prompted him to enter into therapy focused on his inappropriate conduct with children prior to the allegations.”

One could say it takes a special kind of talent to pack so many falsehoods into so brief a statement, but in this one example, the misinformation is so dense that unpacking it all truly becomes an arduous task. But let’s take a stab at it.

First, let’s quickly look at the timeline Farrow is suggesting. He claims to have memories of being disturbed as a five-year-old by Allen behaving in a creepy way toward Dylan. The problem is, the last time that Allen ever saw Dylan, Ronan was only four. What’s more, Allen’s visits with Dylan had been closely supervised for the previous seven months, before which Ronan would have been closer to three. And if the alleged behavior preceded the therapy sessions grossly mischaracterized by Ronan (more on that in a moment), that rolls the clock back to a time period when Ronan was only two. But he bumps his age up to five, presumably knowing that this will make his claim of remembering the event more plausible.

Aside from the issue of age, there’s the fact that Allen was never in therapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan, and no matter how often and how forcefully the Farrow camp pushes this canard, it remains provably false. The therapy sessions to which Ronan is referring were with Dr. Susan Coates, who was not hired to treat Allen, but rather… wait for it… a small boy called Satchel, later to be known as “Ronan.”

Coates, a therapist who specialized in treating young children with severe emotional problems, had been working with Satchel since shortly before his third birthday. She would later testify at the custody hearing that she always included the parents of the children in her therapy sessions. For this reason, both Woody and Mia spoke with her regularly about Ronan’s progress and also Dylan’s, who was seeing Dr. Nancy Schultz, a colleague of Coates’. Mia complained that Woody paid too much attention to Dylan at the exclusion of her six other children from her prior marriage to André Previn. While Dr. Coates agreed that Woody needed to set boundaries and give Dylan more space, she was also concerned that Mia had an “overly intense” relationship with Satchel. What Coates also testified to, repeatedly, was that she saw “no sexual element” in Woody’s behavior toward Dylan.

NOT SEXUAL
Excerpt from courtroom testimony of child therapist, Dr. Susan Coates. (Allen vs Farrow, March 30, 1993.)

The endlessly repeated distortion suggesting that Allen was in therapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan is misleading to begin with, but then Ronan tries to up the ante by saying the behavior that precipitated the therapy was toward “children” (plural), to imply that there might be more than one alleged victim.

(A reminder that we are still unpacking one brief statement of Ronan’s consisting of only 65 words. Stay with us.)

Besides it being impossible for Ronan to have witnessed this alleged behavior he claims to remember, and besides the fact that the nature of the therapy Ronan describes is entirely inaccurate, it turns out the behavior itself never happened, either.

When I originally read Ronan’s statement claiming to remember Allen getting into bed with Dylan in his underwear and Dylan sucking his thumb, it had an immediate ring of familiarity about it. That’s because it originally came from Mia Farrow’s 1997 memoir, What Falls Away, in which Mia describes these incidents as things that she witnessed. They were never part of Ronan or Dylan’s version of events until over 20 years later, when they started passing off other people’s stories as their own memories. But when Ronan parrots this dubious information, he gets the details wrong and changes the story to say that it happened “in the middle of the night” for dramatic effect. Even Mia concurs that Woody Allen never spent one night at her apartment, so there’s no nighttime scenario in which this could have happened. The only possible times during which Allen would have even been in the same house with Dylan overnight were the occasional visits he made during the summer to Mia Farrow’s country home in Connecticut, where he would sometimes sleep over.

Writing this piece, we reached out to Allen about a few points which I had never seen him discuss publicly, and he was happy to respond candidly to all the questions I had. About the idea of him getting into Dylan’s bed, he said, “Even in its most innocuous form, this story is pure fabrication. The times I did stay at Mia’s country house, not only is it ridiculous to think that I would sneak out of bed with Mia at night to crawl into Dylan’s bed across the hall, but never once did Dylan even get in a bed with me when I wasn’t dressed, in the morning, at night, or any other time. Forget the added embellishments. The whole idea is pure fiction from the start.”

FULLY CLOTHED
Excerpt from courtroom testimony of Mia Farrow. (Allen vs Farrow, March 25, 1993.)

Mia said at the time of the custody hearing that she had been troubled by Woody’s behavior toward Dylan, citing as an example that when Dylan was two and a half or three, Allen would allegedly permit her to suck on his thumb. (Later, she would up the age to four.) Her description of events suggests that Dylan, as a toddler, would try to suck on Woody’s thumb and sometimes he would allow it. We asked Allen about this as well and he flatly denied it, saying, “Having a child suck on my thumb is not something I would welcome or allow. Did it happen once or twice for a second or two? I can’t say with 100% certainty. But I wouldn’t find it amusing or cute and certainly would never initiate or encourage it.”

THUMB SUCK.jpg
Excerpt from courtroom testimony of Mia Farrow. (Allen vs Farrow, March 25, 1993.)

But even if it did happen, Mia’s rather innocuous description of this event is a far cry from Ronan’s version of Allen “forcing” Dylan to suck his thumb in a sexual way, let alone “in bed…in the middle of the night.”

The common thread that becomes evident as you go through more of Ronan’s reporting is his habit of altering things by a few words or a phrase to change the implications of what he’s saying to something far more sinister than the facts support.

In Catch and Kill, his book about the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations and the source of many of the incidents of shoddy reporting that have been recently gaining notice, Ronan tells the following anecdote:

“As September turned to October, [Weinstein] sought out the figure at the heart of his claims that I had a conflict of interest. Weinstein had his assistants place the call. On a movie set in Central Park, another assistant brought a phone to Woody Allen.

 “Weinstein seemed to want a strategic playbook—for quashing sexual assault allegations, and for dealing with me. ‘How did you deal with this?’ Weinstein asked at one point. He wanted to know if Allen would intercede on his behalf. Allen shut down the idea. But he did have knowledge that Weinstein would later put to use. That week, Weinstein’s credit card receipts show his purchase of a book of interviews with Allen, written by a die-hard fan of his, documenting all of the arguments Allen and his army of private investigators and publicists had come up with to smear the credibility of my sister, the district attorney, and a judge who had suggested she was telling the truth.

“ ‘Jeez, I’m so sorry,’ Allen told Weinstein on the call. ‘Good luck.’ ”

This passage comes late in the book, after Farrow has spent many pages attempting to illustrate that Weinstein has a network of spies and secret agents who, in his supposition, seem to be a larger, more powerful organization than the CIA and who have been, for decades, engaged in the business of covering up Weinstein’s countless sexual misdeeds. Yet here Ronan submits that, for some reason, Weinstein suddenly needs Woody Allen’s advice on how to enact this same sort of cover-up and get Allen’s very estranged son off his back.

For a claim that large, you’d imagine there must be some kind of reliable source given, but you’d be wrong. The notes at the end of the book give no explanation for how Farrow could provide the exact content of this particular phone call. Like incident after incident in the book, if you stop and think about it for a minute, you’ll start to question how he would actually know the details of what he’s describing.

In the colorful scene, Farrow provides direct quotes from both sides of the conversation, down to “Jeez, I’m so sorry.” Did he speak with individuals who happened to be listening in at both locations? Maybe an assistant or somebody working for Weinstein stayed on the line throughout the conversation, but that seems unlikely in a call where the producer was openly asking for advice on how to cover up sexual assaults. If Farrow did have such a witness, you’d think he’d mention it, and be able to describe the call in more detail. He doesn’t, though.

When we asked Allen about this phone call, he remembered it clearly. “It was on the final day of shooting Rainy Day in New York. We were in Central Park by the Delacorte clock. My assistant tells me Harvey Weinstein is on her phone and wants to talk to me. I thought it strange as I hadn’t spoken with Harvey in at least a dozen years. He seemed disoriented. My impression was that maybe he was medicated. I clearly remember him saying that someone was following him and people were making up stories about him or trying to blackmail him. It wasn’t entirely coherent, but he did ask me, ‘How did you handle it? What did you do?’ I didn’t really know what to say, so I suggested maybe that he get a good lawyer or hire a detective if someone’s following him. There wasn’t much I could think to say.”

When we asked Allen specifically what Weinstein had to say about Ronan, Allen responded, “I don’t recall that Ronan’s name ever came up. Harvey would certainly know that I’d be the last person who would have any sway with Ronan.”

Allen gave us this description without having read Farrow’s book and having no idea how Farrow had described the call, so it’s striking to see how much of what he said lines up with Farrow’s account, but only on one side of the conversation. The description of the Weinstein side of the call bears little resemblance to what Allen describes. It seems possible that Farrow had a witness near Allen, and then simply imagined what he’d like the other half of the call to be, going so far as to place himself in the center of the action, and putting the imaginary dialog in quotation marks – all in the name of creating some sinister implications about Woody Allen’s complicity in covering up Weinstein’s sexual misdeeds.

Then there’s the book Farrow says Weinstein bought, which he attempts to describe as some sort of handbook with directions from Allen on how to beat sexual assault allegations. The trouble is that no such book exists.

Farrow describes the author as a Woody Allen biographer, and out of all the books by Allen biographers to date, there are only two that even remotely contain any response to the assault allegation. About two years prior to Farrow’s story, author David Evanier wrote a book about Allen which does contain a chapter dealing with the allegation and the aftermath, but it was a conventional biography, not a “book of interviews.” Allen did not participate in its writing, and although he made no effort to stop it, he didn’t authorize it either. Nor has he read it.

The only other remotely similar book is Start to Finish by Eric Lax. Start to Finish, however, also turns out to not be some sort of feature-length rape apologia. It’s a film book about the production of Allen’s 2015 feature Irrational Man. Since the book was written while the allegation against Allen was gaining renewed attention (due to pressure from Farrow and his sister), Lax couldn’t avoid mentioning it briefly in one chapter. He presents not some sort of fantasia of arguments smearing accusers, made up by an “army” of publicists and so on, but simply the account of Allen’s son Moses, who was in the house on the day in question and has a first-person account very much at odds with the one that Ronan and Dylan have been peddling. For Farrow to present Moses’s own personal memories as fiction created by private detectives and publicists is an interesting look for somebody who is, in the same sentence, attacking anybody who doesn’t believe the memories of his sister.

But why does there have to be all this guesswork? How hard would it have been to name the book to which Farrow is referring? You would think that, for a book making claims as serious as the ones in Catch and Kill, providing that very basic level of information would be the absolute minimum. Of course, if he did simply provide the name of the book, anybody could go read Start to Finish or Evanier’s biography and discover that they bear no resemblance to the book that Farrow is trying to plant in the readers’ imagination. He simply had a credit card receipt showing that Weinstein purchased a book about Woody Allen, and he goes to all this effort to make it into another example of sinister networking within some kind of organized cabal of sex offenders.

I’m no Pulitzer Prize winner, but it seems to me that clarifying your sources is a relatively easy task and a basic obligation for any journalist. For example, if I were to say that Farrow’s oft-repeated story that he was on crutches for years because of an unspecified “infection” that he contracted while working in the Sudan was actually a lie to cover up for a series of lengthy and painful cosmetic leg surgeries that Mia Farrow thought would benefit his political career, I would certainly provide my source, which is Woody Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, page 281 (American edition by Arcade Publishing), where Allen details this story as told by Moses Farrow, who was a first-hand witness and remembers his mother arguing on the phone with the insurance company because they would not cover a cosmetic surgical procedure.

Or if I were to say that Mia Farrow, who Ronan insists was a perfect mother who never did anything inappropriate with her children, slept in bed nude with Ronan until he was at least 11 years old, I would make sure to refer the reader to page 232 of Apropos of Nothing where this story is told as well, from a first-hand account by the household nanny, Sandy Boluch. Further backup to this claim is provided by Satchel/Ronan’s therapist Dr. Coates, who testified under oath that Mia followed this practice with her older son Fletcher, and planned to do the same with Ronan.

FLETCHER SLEEP
Excerpt from courtroom testimony of child therapist, Dr. Susan Coates, recalling a conversation she had with Mia Farrow regarding sleeping arrangements with her sons Fletcher and Satchel (Ronan), respectively. (Allen vs Farrow, March 30, 1993.)

See how easy it is to provide sources when you actually have them?

By his own description, Farrow’s main sources on Woody Allen seem to primarily be two reporters. When asked by The Guardian about the dodgy prospect of presuming Allen’s guilt when all legal authorities have said otherwise, Farrow replied:

“If you look at Andy Thibault’s exhaustive reporting in Connecticut Magazine back in the day or Maureen Orth’s investigative reporting, it’s very clear that it is towards the end of the most heavily corroborated cases that have emerged publicly. Otherwise I wouldn’t have spoken out in support of my sister.”

One of the only sources that Farrow supplies in Catch and Kill for his statements about Allen is an article by Andy Thibault, How Straight-shooting State’s Attorney Frank Maco Got Mixed Up in the Woody-Mia Mess, which he gives as his source for the idea that Allen hired a huge team of private investigators to smear the prosecution:

“When a pediatrician finally did report the allegation to the authorities, Allen hired what one of his lawyers estimated to be ten or more private detectives through a network of attorneys and subcontractors. They trailed law enforcement officials, looking for evidence of drinking or gambling problems. A prosecutor in Connecticut, Frank Maco, later described a ‘campaign to disrupt the investigators,’ and colleagues said he was rattled.”

Of course, Thibault is not a primary source. Where in his “exhaustive reporting” did he get his information?

Frank Maco was the prosecutor originally assigned to the Dylan Farrow case in Connecticut, and about whom Woody Allen filed a complaint over his inappropriate public comments regarding the case. Thibault’s article on Maco was timed to a hearing about Maco’s conduct by the state’s Grievance Panel and was, from the title on down, expressly written with the purpose of portraying Maco as a “straight shooter” who was being unfairly targeted by Allen. Almost all of the original information in this article is from a few police friends of Maco who were there to paint this glowing picture of him, and who seem to present a number of claims for which I have never found another source, and at times contradict what was said by the actual witnesses in the case.

The rest of Thibault’s information largely seems to be copied from Maureen Orth. I’ve already produced a lengthy video debunking the pieces Maureen Orth has written on the Allen story. The short version is that by her own admission, when the fact checkers at Vanity Fair went over her original article on Woody Allen, they declined to publish it until Mia Farrow provided them with a letter promising that if they were sued over the article she would appear in court to say that it was true “from her point of view.”

In other words, Orth’s article is an unverifiable opinion piece expressly representing Mia Farrow’s “point of view.” And yet, this article is where Thibault seems to find many of his “facts.” For example:

“On Aug. 4, 1992, a babysitter claims she saw Allen kneeling in front of Dylan, who was sitting on a couch in the den of the Bridgewater home. Dylan was wearing a dress, but no underpants. She stared blankly at the TV screen. The babysitter told authorities she notice [sic] that Allen’s head was between the girl’s legs, very close to her crotch.”

The story that Dylan was at one point that day without her underpants has been told in at least three very different, mutually contradictory, versions. In fact, the courtroom testimony from Mia’s witnesses is so wildly divergent that it has the distinct air of individuals who basically agreed to make an accusation, but then never bothered to work out the details. Casey Pascal, Mia’s close friend who was there that day with her children, has said simply that Dylan told her she took off her underwear because they were wet. One common element of all these accounts, though, is that when they say Dylan was discovered without her underwear, it was a completely separate incident from when Allen was said to have had his head on her lap.

In her article, Orth mentions the two incidents a few paragraphs apart, leaving an impression that there’s a connection, when none was actually stated by any of the witnesses at the house that day. Allen has said himself that at one point when they were in the TV room watching a video, Dylan was sitting on the couch and he was sitting on the floor in front of her, and he leaned his head onto her legs. He was sitting on the floor rather than on the couch because the couch was occupied by several other children. Alison Stickland, the nanny who reported the moment, didn’t see anything odd enough about it at the time to even mention it to anybody until she told her employer Casey Pascal later that evening. Pascal also didn’t seem too alarmed by it, because she didn’t say anything about it to Mia Farrow until the following day, meanwhile allowing Allen to spend that night in a guestroom at Farrow’s country house and the morning with Ronan and Dylan, helping them pick out toys from a toy catalog he’d brought. Until well after it happened, the alleged head-on-lap moment was treated as a non-event.

Because a non-event is what it was.

But then we have Orth attempting to imply it had something to do with the missing underwear story and Thibault, it would seem, copying this without reading it closely and saying outright that the underwear was missing when Allen had his head on Dylan’s legs, in spite of the fact that no witness at the house ever said any such thing. Thibault then adds the information that Dylan’s legs are close to her crotch, which isn’t much of a surprise for those of us who have seen a human being before, but it sounds pretty bad if you phrase it just so.

I recently contacted Andy Thibault to ask him about this and a number of other inaccuracies in his articles, and his response was, “I advise colleagues / reporters that we ask questions and our work speaks for itself; also, that reporters never reveal sources.” Of course, I wasn’t asking him to reveal confidential sources. We know that the source of the story about Allen’s head in Dylan’s lap is Alison Stickland. I was asking him about the discrepancy between what the known witness has testified to under oath, and how he describes these events in his articles. I reached out once more saying as much, but that reply went unanswered. I give Thibault credit for standing by his credo: he’s not about to reveal his sources, and his reporting definitely speaks for itself.

If details like this aren’t absolute proof that Thibault is sourcing things from Orth, he also wrote an article entitled, Cool Justice: Maureen Orth cooks Woody Allen like Thanksgiving Turkey where he gleefully cheers Orth on for her biased and inaccurate reporting on Woody. In another article, he specifically names Orth as his source as he makes another incorrect claim — that Allen refused to take a lie detector test and that Mia Farrow was not asked to take one by the police. The actual fact is that neither were asked to take one by the police, but that Allen took (and passed with flying colors) one voluntarily, and when Allen’s lawyers asked Mia to do the same, she refused. Thibault might know this if he had a source other than Orth.

After Thibault copies Orth, she in turn appears to use Thibault’s reporting as a source in her articles where she refers to opinions of the State police, among other questionable statements. She’s also consistently vague about all her sources, but the cop buddies of Maco’s that appear as character witnesses in Thibault’s piece are the only sources I’ve found for some of the statements that she would later refer to as “undeniable facts.” In an op-ed for the L.A. Times in 2017, Dylan repeats the exact same misinformation about the polygraph test, cribbed from either Thibault or Orth. (An email to Orth on June 24, 2020, seeking clarification on these matters went unanswered.)

So, you have Thibault copying his homework from Orth, and then Orth copying from Thibault, and then Thibault copying from Orth copying from Thibault, and then Ronan and Dylan using the two of them as the sources for the things they say about Allen. If you read the statements by the four of them together, it’s like some kind of Möbius strip of fanciful, unsubstantiated claims. Try to figure out where one of them got something, and they’ll point to one of the other three, and around and around, without ever a primary source in sight. Thibault, incidentally, also lives in Connecticut near the Farrows, has made public appearances with Dylan and, on Dylan’s Twitter, she has directly used screenshots of Thibault’s work at least seven times.

Out of every word Ronan and Dylan have said about the story since they resurfaced it in 2014, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single detail that wasn’t first said in an article by either Orth or Thibault. These authors being their only source of information is a problem when you can easily see that they’re both completely unreliable.

In Thibault’s article about straight-shooter Frank Maco, he names Allen’s lawyer Elkan Abramowitz as the source confirming that Allen hired ten or more private investigators. But his claim that these investigators were hired for some kind of smear campaign to intimidate police directly contradicts his quoting Abramowitz as saying, “We didn’t go into any kind of smear campaign against the police.”

When we reached out to Abramowitz for comment, his response muddied Thibault’s claims even further: “The quote you supplied is absolutely correct: We never hired any investigators to smear Maco or the police. The rest of the quote is completely false. I never would have disclosed to anybody that we had hired investigators even if we did, because to do so would have violated the attorney client privilege. Having said that, I have no recollection of any investigators hired through my law firm.” When asked if he had any idea where the notion of “ten or more detectives” came from, he responded, “Nope. It’s absurd.”

We also asked Allen about the private investigators working on the case and he said, “I hired just a team of two private investigators – a man and a woman. That was it. The instruction they were given was limited only to Mia. How was she treating the children? Was she poisoning the kids against me? Any of the typical stuff that would be helpful in a custody case.” When asked if the detectives were told to get any information on Maco or the judge or anyone in law enforcement, Allen responded, “Not at all. I had no beef with Maco at that time and certainly wouldn’t have been foolish enough to go after a judge or a cop. No, we were only trying to find out things pertaining to Mia and the kids.”

Despite a lack of any credible evidence or documented corroboration, Farrow would still maintain that an army of private investigators were hired directly by Allen, and further imagines some kind of organized campaign against the police with Allen as its mastermind.

Since Farrow himself says he wouldn’t have spoken out for his sister if not for the “exhaustive reporting” of Thibault and Orth, should we assume that since so much of that reporting can be proved faulty, Farrow will now walk back his support of Dylan’s story? (Don’t stress. It’s a rhetorical question.)

Farrow’s fact-challenged free-association can reach poetic heights in some of his Tweets about Allen. For example:

“My column about confronting [the Woody Allen allegation] as a brother and a reporter was less significant than the women who publicly accused Woody Allen of sex crimes with minors (my sister @RealDylanFarrow, @Babi_Engelhardt) and disclosure of his diaries about underage girls”

This is another of those trademarked Farrow flights of fancy where he manages to get something wrong in nearly every word.

In 2018, a freelance writer named Richard Morgan decided to go through Allen’s papers housed in Princeton’s Special Collections and write a manifestly dishonest article for The Washington Post, in which he scoured decades of documents, cited any example which referred to a woman as attractive, omitted everything else he read, intimated that the papers were composed of virtually nothing but these examples, and posited that a writer discussing sexual attraction between genders is somehow evidence of perversion.

Farrow references this article and decides to toss in an extra lie of his own, referring to the assortment of sketches, screenplays, notes, jokes and fictional stories, as a “disclosure of [Allen’s] diaries,” implying that these papers were in some way an account of his own private behavior and meant to be kept secret. In fact, the papers were voluntarily donated to the Princeton library by Allen himself, viewable to any researcher who makes an appointment. Farrow then goes on to say that they were about “underage girls” when, even in the spurious Washington Post article, the closest they can come to anything inappropriate about an underage person is a single fictional 16-year-old from an old television pitch who was described one time as “sexy” when wearing an evening gown. Out of 56 boxes of material spanning decades of a heralded writing career, the sum total of evidence displayed regarding underage women is a single adjective used to describe a fictional one.

Farrow then decides to toss the name Babi Engelhardt into the Tweet along with his sister, listing both as people who have “accused Woody Allen of sex crimes with minors.” Engelhardt, who was the one who initially approached Allen when she slipped him her phone number at Elaine’s restaurant in 1976, has said herself that they had no sexual contact before she was of legal age. To this day, she’s maintained that the relationship was consensual and that she doesn’t regret it. (She would later move on to Federico Fellini, proving she has admirable taste in directors.) Yet Farrow blithely tosses her name in with somebody who has said Allen molested her at age seven, as if those two things are in any way comparable. To say that Engelhardt ever accused Woody Allen of sex crimes with a minor is – to use an Old School expression – a lie. Farrow might want to tread lightly when invoking Englehardt as a witness for the prosecution, since she has also said that Mia Farrow was involved in her sexual encounters with Woody Allen, and stoned at the time.

Ronan does it again in his interview with The Guardian:

“There is an abundance of evidence that Woody Allen was engaged in a pattern with respect to underage women and that’s in the trove of documents the Washington Post uncovered; it’s in the civil proceedings that happened and the family court proceedings that happened in New York, where there was intense debate about the age of my other sister he was engaging in sexual relations with in our household. This was a serial fixator on underage girls.”

He says again here that the Washington Post “uncovered” the papers in the Princeton collection as though these public papers were secret dossiers. Farrow again lies about there being a pattern of the fictional women in those documents supposedly being underage. And then he says that there was debate about Soon-Yi Previn’s age when Allen began his relationship with her, and he happens to leave out that the debate about Soon-Yi’s age (her birth was not recorded) was about whether she would have been 19 or 21 when Allen began dating her. Without going into all the details of that story, which I also cover in my video, the younger age of 19 is highly unlikely given the circumstances of her adoption, and the higher age of 21 is based on what Mia and André Previn had concluded when they adopted her, with Mia saying herself that Soon-Yi was possibly even older, which would have placed her age at 22 when Allen became involved with her in December of 1991. (Interestingly, Mia was only 19 when she became romantically involved with Frank Sinatra, who was 50.) Peeling back the years on Soon-Yi’s age was a practice commenced by Mia Farrow only after the relationship with Allen was discovered.

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Excerpt from courtroom testimony of Mia Farrow, viewing her own sworn affidavit that Soon-Yi Previn’s birth year was 1970, making her 21 when she became involved with Woody Allen. (Allen vs Farrow, March 25, 1993.)

The debate was about Soon-Yi’s birth year, not about when she began her relationship with Allen, and in none of those possible scenarios was Soon-Yi underage or close to it when Allen started dating her, and yet Farrow just drops it in there with his statement that Allen had a pattern with underage women, knowing that most people won’t bother looking into the details. And again, he’s implying a correlation here between a consensual relationship with a woman who was 21 years old and molesting a seven-year-old in an attic crawl space. His willingness to conflate the two to serve his own ends should be highly disturbing.

When Farrow repeatedly refers to this supposed “pattern” of Allen being a “fixator” on underage women, the only examples he can come up with are two women who were not underage.

You could continue to go on like this line-by-line through nearly everything Ronan has written, and just find more examples. The majority of Catch and Kill is an exercise in taking a thin basis of information, spinning from it vast conspiracy theories, and telling it in the manner of an exciting, international spy thriller in which Farrow casts himself as the dashing young James Bond figure. (One suspects that Farrow already had an eventual screenplay in mind while writing his book. It struck me as surprising that it didn’t include storyboards.)

Farrow likes to present himself as a benevolent underdog fighting to tell truth to power, when the truth is that the Farrows are a phone call away from having access to every media outlet in the world.

In 2017, when asked about Allen denying the charge against him, Farrow told CBS that Allen, “has gone very directly after any woman proximate to it. Huge, huge public relations apparatus designed to do that.”

There are a couple things about this statement that are exceptionally dishonest, the first being the way Farrow chooses to use the word “woman” to imply that somehow Allen would treat women talking about the issue differently than men. Farrow is always eager to make sure he’s seen as an advocate for all women, so that if you criticize him, you’re also against the entire gender for whom he is a champion. In Catch and Kill there are several passages where he attempts to cast aspersions at the media “elite” or to critique NBC for having too many white men in their management structure which are immediately humorous to read for anybody who has ever seen a picture of Farrow.

But the truly ridiculous thing here is the description of Allen’s supposed, “Huge, huge public relations apparatus.”

Woody Allen’s huge public relations apparatus consisted of his publicist, Leslee Dart (now retired), whose main responsibility was to arrange or decline promotional interviews when the director had a new movie coming out, and a small circle of friends and family members whose advice he’ll seek occasionally. Robert Weide, one of these friends, described to me the machinations of Woody’s gigantic PR machine at the peak of all the media frenzy over the allegation: “During the course of a conversation covering any number of topics, Woody might say, ‘I don’t think I should respond to this. I don’t know. What do you think?’ and I or whoever else might say, ‘I don’t know, maybe you should say something. But maybe wait to see if it dies down first.’ After reading the pulse of what he comically called his ‘brain trust,’ he would ultimately make the decision himself about whether to respond or how. Almost invariably, he’d decide not to act.” That was the extent of these elite, global media-shaping power summits.

After Dylan restated her claim in 2014, Woody wrote an op-ed providing a brief but detailed and credible rebuttal, and aside from a short interview on an Argentinian TV station in 2018, hardly spoke of it again. Because that’s how a huge, huge public relations apparatus would get the word out: on a Spanish-language TV station most people in Allen’s home country would never even see. It was almost six years after the claim resurfaced before he would type out on his 68-year-old manual typewriter a more detailed defense in his memoir. Meanwhile, Ronan Farrow was on a whirlwind tour of every talk show and news broadcast in the U.S. and abroad that would have him, which is almost all of them, spreading his nonsense that Woody has too much power and unfair access to the media.

Because of Farrow’s limitless media access and his involvement in reporting on sexual assault, many women with true stories of harassment and abuse have confided in him and trusted him to tell their stories. In Catch and Kill, there are a number of truly heartbreaking and horrifying stories told by women who are sharing with Farrow the worst days of their lives. This is the point where his glib disregard for the facts and for scrupulous reporting really starts to become infuriating. These women who are sharing these stories deserve to have them told by a serious reporter, not somebody who won’t do due diligence to get the details correct and who will put them in a book where serious, true accounts are freely intermixed with unfounded conspiracy theories and his James Bond fan fiction.

Ronan Farrow’s first column on Allen was called, “My Father, Woody Allen, and the Danger of Questions Unasked”, and he spends much of it chiding the media for refusing to ask Allen the “tough questions.” The truth, of course is that Allen has been asked these tough questions endlessly for 28 years. Reporters still ask them constantly, and now he’s written a memoir, including a section that provides his answer in forensic detail. Ironically, when Allen made this attempt in his memoir to thoroughly respond to these tough questions, it was Farrow who unsuccessfully worked to have the book canceled.

Ronan Farrow, on the other hand, has been very careful to never put himself in situations where he would be asked questions he didn’t want to answer, and until recently, nobody wanted to ask them. I’m wondering how long it will be until Ronan gets asked some “tough questions” where his usual vague answers won’t cut it.

Once people see that much of the animosity toward Woody Allen is built on this very same house of cards and shoddy reporting, will they maybe start to ask themselves the tough question of why they were so willing to assume Allen was guilty when all the evidence pointed to the contrary?

The answer to that question is probably obvious. After all, what’s the fun in finding out if a person is actually guilty of something every time you want to cancel them?


Rick Worley is a writer, cartoonist, and creator of the comics series A Waste of Time. He might wish to challenge Robert Weide’s assertion that he’s best known for YouTube videos about Star Wars, but it’s probably true. He tweets at @bloodoftheland

Robert B. Weide is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose documentaries have covered the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was also the Executive Producer and director of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He tweets at @BobWeide. Despite rumors to the contrary, he is not a meme.

 

The Truth About Woody Allen (Part II)

By Robert B. Weide

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For Part I of this interview CLICK HERE.


PM: You tweeted an offer to donate $100,000 to a charity of Ronan and Dylan Farrow’s choice if they could prove their accusations about Woody Allen. Was that just a publicity stunt?

RW: Not much of one, because I have a relatively small Twitter following. But the offer was real. I even called my accountant to make sure I could loosen up that kind of money if I had to. But I was trying to get Ronan to back up specific claims he made in a statement he put out on Twitter, all of which were entirely misleading or seemingly made up. I was asking for any documentation that could back up any of his claims. Of course, the offer met with radio silence. Too bad. If he had come through, I’m sure “Time’s Up” could have used the money.

The Farrows are not honest people. What else might they be lying about to preserve [their] image?


PM: That offer also referenced claims about a sister’s death, and Ronan’s leg surgery – things that were not part of Ronan’s statement. What were you driving at?

RW: If you Google “Tam Farrow death,” the story you get is that this sister died at the age of 21 from heart failure. That’s the official Farrow story. But in Moses’ blog post, he tells us that Tam actually committed suicide by intentionally overdosing on pills immediately following one last fight with Mia. So I was simply requesting something that would back up the heart failure story and disprove Moses’ version. Maybe cause of death was officially listed as heart failure, but it was due to the intentional overdose. The Farrows leave out that part.

Also, Ronan says in numerous interviews that he was on crutches and in a wheelchair for years because he contracted a leg infection in the Sudan doing volunteer work with his mother. But I’ve encountered a contradictory story that the numerous leg surgeries were purely cosmetic, to add a few inches to his height, which would explain the Ilizarov braces he wore for so long. Someone close to the family told me that Mia wanted the cosmetic procedure because she felt Ronan couldn’t have a career in politics if he was too short. Admittedly, this is hearsay, but if you look at before-and-after photos, he certainly had a remarkable growth spurt at this time.

Ilizarov v copy

PM: Okay, but even if that’s true, what does that have to do with whether or not Woody Allen abused Dylan? Aren’t you getting out in the weeds on this one?

RW: The point is that, in my opinion, the Farrows are not honest people. If Tam committed suicide, why the deception about heart failure? If Ronan had cosmetic surgery to add a few inches, that’s great. But then why the cover story about the infection contracted in the Sudan? And if these stories are designed to paint a sympathetic picture of the Farrows as a happy mixed family, what else might they be lying about to preserve that image? I was giving Ronan a chance to back up these claims by putting my money where my mouth was.

PM: You once tweeted that actors who speak out against Woody Allen will one day be as proud of their comments as those who named names during the McCarthy era.

RW: Yes, and I mean that, literally. Not just actors, but anyone in the industry who is complicit in trying to put him out of business. I know that comparing contemporary events to the McCarthy witch hunts is an overused analogy – sort of like calling everybody you don’t like a Fascist. But I do think that the anti-Woody people, certainly those in the business, are practicing a kind of neo-McCarthyism.

First of all, there is specific pressure being brought to bear on many actors to take a stand—meaning to take the so-called “correct” position of denouncing him.

PM: What do you mean by “specific pressure?”

RW: I mean I’ve spoken to actors and casting directors who have heard from surrogates in the Farrow camp, advising them not to work with Allen. In fact, after I wrote my Daily Beast piece in 2014, I received a long email from someone I’d always been friendly with — a powerful producer/director — who said I should stay out of this, that it was a private family matter and that I had no business involving myself, and that I was going to really damage my career. I laughed it off, of course, but a couple of years later, this same person became a very vocal and persistent denouncer of Allen’s. So obviously, his underlying message wasn’t really “Don’t get involved” so much as “don’t take the unpopular position.”

Someone recently sent me a link to a blog where the writer lists all the actors who have “apologized” for working with Allen, and then rates each one’s statement as to how acceptable the apology was. I’m guessing those actors with inadequate apologies were let off the hook if they named three other actors who haven’t yet apologized. But that’s how stupid this has become.

PM: I’ve noticed that some of Allen’s support has come from right-wing sites like Breitbart. What do you think that’s about?

RW: Yes, and the National Review.  They’re having quite the field day with this because they can point to it as an example of blacklisting from the Left, which, of course, it is. But yeah, it does make for strange bedfellows.

But he’s also received support from Left-leaning publications like The Nation. If you move even further left, there was recently an interesting article in the World Socialist Website that expressed some serious disdain for Ronan Farrow. Apparently Ronan was doing a Q&A at the University of Michigan where a member of the Socialist Equality Party gave him a piece of his mind that reportedly left Ronan pretty shaken. So there are strong responses to these issues from all over the political spectrum. It’s heartening that some of the best think pieces advocating for Allen are written by women — many of them considered feminist writers.

(Note: Here is a very small sampling of columns by female writers with links to their works: Hadley Freeman, Catherine Shoard, JoAnn Wypijewski, JoAnne Wypijewski (2), Katie Herzog, Cathy Young, Cathy Young (2), Katie Roiphe, Janice Harper, Joan Ullman.)

PM: You once mentioned to me your theory about a shared psychology among the anti-Woody contingent.

RW: Well, I said that first of all, most of them are spectacularly ill-informed. But we covered that. You know that line, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts?” So, when people say, “I think he’s a pervert,” okay, well, “That’s just, like your opinion, man,” to quote the Dude. But when someone claims that Soon-Yi was Woody’s daughter, or underage when they got involved, that’s empirically false. I have here one of my favorite anti-Woody tweets, which is fairly recent [reading]: “Woody Allen’s daughter stated that he raped her when she was 7 years old. And he has been accused of sexually molesting his 10-year-old adoptive daughter, whom he later married.”

STUPID WOODY TWEETS 4

Now, it’s hard to even begin to untangle all the things this person gets wrong, but that tweet exists in the Twittersphere with equal authority as a tweet that might say “December 25th is Christmas Day.” They’re both given equal weight. Now, it’s safe to say that the poster of that tweet wouldn’t know a fact if it smacked him on his ass. Even the Farrow camp wouldn’t stand by any part of that Tweet. In fact, Dylan never claimed to be raped, for starters. But that random tweet by some random guy got hundreds of “likes” and hundreds of re-Tweets by people who presumably accept the post as fact. I rarely get that many likes and retweets for my own posts.

Not a single brain cell shared among this crowd. Yet they currently hold the upper hand in this debate.

There’s currently another tweet making the rounds with a photo from about 10 years ago that shows Woody with his adopted daughter Bechet, who’s Asian. She’s probably about nine or ten in the photo. And the caption claims this is Woody’s adopted daughter whom he later married. Of course, in their own racist way, they’re trying to pass off this little girl in the photo as Soon-Yi. Never mind that Soon-Yi was never Woody’s adopted daughter. But people have jumped onto this, saying it shows how sick and disgusting Woody is. Not a single brain cell shared among this crowd. Yet they currently hold the upper hand in this debate.

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But back to your question — the psychology. What inspires this kind of lashing out with “alternative facts,” with such conviction? No matter how you cut it, Woody Allen is a hugely successful artist. He’s an iconic figure the world over, he’s garnered a slew of Academy awards and nominations, and we can guess he’s pretty wealthy. Agreed?

PM:  Sure.

RW: So what does this have to do with Joe Rando? Well, it gives Mr. Rando an opportunity to say, “I’m a better person than this famous, rich dude.” Otherwise, why would he blurt out a meaningless word salad with such confidence, and why would so many others hop onto the Imbecile Express? That tweet confusing his actual daughter with Soon-Yi has nothing to do with Dylan, so it’s beyond the realm of that debate. But putting down the famous guy makes you better than he is. I think that’s the underlying psychology. But even so-called “serious” journalists do a more benign version of the same thing. When there are major inaccuracies or a serious bias in their reporting, I’m convinced they start from the point of view that Allen is guilty, and then reverse engineer their reporting from there. Again, I think the subtext is, “I’m better than this guy, or more sensitive, or morally superior,” or whatever. Granted, this is all simply my hunch. I have no empirical evidence to back this up.

One day [Dylan] told Mia that it simply never happened.


PM: I want to go back. You said that Dylan never claimed she was raped. What is her claim exactly?

RW: Well, it’s varied over the years in the specifics, but basically her claim was that her father took her up into this attic, or crawl space actually, and fondled her. Now, I’m not being blasé about this, if it were true. But without re-stating every detail of the day in question, the conclusion of everyone tasked with investigating these events say it didn’t happen. And probably the best case against the validity of this claim can be found in Moses Farrow’s blog post, since he remembers everything about that day with such clarity.

When Dylan wrote her essay for Nick Kristof’s NY Times column, she said her father “sexually assaulted” her. So this phrasing leaves you with the most horrible image imaginable. But when you go back to the allegations of 1992, it was always about an alleged single incident of touching, which would be bad enough if it were true. Now something Dylan says in almost every interview and every essay is that her story has been consistent throughout the years, that it’s never changed. Yet the Yale/New Haven report references her many inconsistencies at the time. But it’s also changed in recent years. Without going into graphic detail, the specifics of what Mia and Dylan say about the alleged touching in 1992, and what Dylan said in her CBS interview as an adult, are very much at odds. Further complicating this is the period in which she said none of this happened at all.

PM: As an adult, or as a child?

RW: No, as a child. Her story about what happened kept changing, and then one day she told Mia that it simply never happened. The nanny, Kristi Groteke, writes about this in her book, and even gives the date. Anyway, the poor kid had just turned seven so it only makes sense that her story would be all over the place. But why, as an adult, is she always insisting her story has never changed? That’s simply false.

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Excerpt from “Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal” by nanny Kristi Groteke.

Now, another issue that plays into this is the statute of limitations. You have the prosecutor, Frank Maco, ordering the Yale/New Haven investigation. They come back and say, “He didn’t do it,” literally. So then Maco issues this statement which all the anti-Woody people love to quote, which is that he feels there is “probable cause” to charge Woody, but he won’t do it because he doesn’t want to put this frail little girl through a trial, which sounds very commendable, right? Except he never says what the probable cause is. Plus, I’ve asked a lot of attorneys about this – prosecutors — who say that if a prosecutor thinks he or she can win a case, they will almost always prosecute — especially with such a serious crime as child molestation. In fact, it’s essentially their obligation to prosecute. To say you have probable cause, but then not prosecute is seen as a face-saving measure. Like, remember when Trump disbanded his Commission on Voter Fraud, “despite substantial evidence of voter fraud.” Yeah, it’s having your cake and eating it, too.

So if the statute of limitations to prosecute this crime in criminal court is, say, ten years, how frail would Dylan have been at seventeen? If this alleged event so ruined her life, why didn’t they take that probable cause and go to court and put Woody behind bars once she could handle a trial? Maybe for the same reason they didn’t do it when she was seven. As soon as that Yale/New Haven report is entered into evidence, it’s “game over.”

I have good news for Dylan…  she can still file a claim against Woody in civil court.

I’ve seen plenty of people on Twitter ask, “Why doesn’t she take him to court and get a verdict and put an end to this?” Dylan’s answer is always that the statute of limitations has expired. But I have good news for Dylan which is that she can still file a claim against Woody in civil court because in Connecticut, the statute of limitations won’t expire until she turns 48. A civil suit wouldn’t put him behind bars, but she can take him for every dime he’s got.

PM: If she has a case.

RW: If she has a case. Frankly, I would love to see her do this as it would force everyone involved to testify under oath. It’s a bit different than the court of public opinion where you don’t have to be under oath to tweet or blog, and you’re never cross-examined.

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Excerpt from Research Report on state of Connecticut Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations. 2018-R-0249. Sept. 20, 2018

PM: We’ve all learned by now what a helpful tool social media is for spreading information, but it seems equally good at spreading misinformation.

RW: The fact that there’s no editorial oversight on social media is a blessing and a curse. The advantages are obvious to anyone who’s been denied access to a conventional platform, but it’s also democratized ignorance. And people think they win an argument by re-posting someone else’s uninformed statement.

Even Dylan Farrow has fallen victim to the cut-and-paste approach to research. In one of her essays, she repeats this falsehood that Woody Allen was asked to take a lie detector test by the CT state police and he refused. Now she was barely seven at the time, so how would she know this? She doesn’t. First of all, it’s not true. I did actual old-school investigative research and found that the state police never requested a lie detector test because, first of all, it would be inadmissible in court. But the truth is Allen volunteered to take one straight away and got the most respected polygraphologist in the country – a guy named Paul Minor who set up the polygraphology program for the FBI Academy and taught it to the recruits. He was hired in some of the country’s highest profile cases: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, O.J. Simpson,  Enron, Jon Benet Ramsey, John DeLorean, etc. So Woody takes the test and passes with flying colors and Minor flies in to show the results to the CT state police who accept his findings. In fact, I’m told they sort of glommed onto him while he was there because he was such a big-shot in the field.

So how does Dylan come to the conclusion that Woody refused to take the test? I’m guessing she cut and pasted from a column by Maureen Orth where she made the same claim. Ironically, her column was called something like “10 Undeniable Facts About Woody Allen.” I’ve read essays by a couple of bloggers who’ve actually debunked all ten of her claims. One journalist I know even contacted Orth and asked her where she got her information about the lie detector test, and I’m told Orth’s answer was predictably vague – something like “several sources.” I think she also said that Vanity Fair fact-checked her. Meanwhile, another guy I know who was at Vanity Fair at the time said that [editor] Graydon Carter practically creamed in his jeans every time they could take a pot shot at Woody Allen.

Ronan does the same thing. He’s written about how weird it was to see his father get in bed with Dylan in his underwear. First of all, no respectable father has ever been in bed with their child wearing their underwear, right? But more to the point, the last time Woody ever saw Dylan, Ronan was only four. But let’s assume he has an excellent memory and this event really upset him. Then how do you square that against the fact that Woody never lived with Mia and her kids, and in fact, never spent one night at Mia’s apartment? So where was all this bed and underwear action taking place? It’s a mystery. But the great investigative journalist said it, so it must be true. I mean, it’s not like he has a blind spot when it comes to his own family, right?

Now these examples are just little tidbits of misinformation, each only slightly damaging in their own way. But you add them all up, and it appears that there may be a legitimate case against Woody Allen. But when you examine them one by one, you’re left with a rapidly collapsing house of cards.

I can guarantee you, not one person out there is defending Allen because they’re pro-child molestation.


PM: You once said you’re able to advocate for Allen because you don’t care what strangers on social media say about you. Do you really feel that way?

RW: Yeah, of course. I’ve said that any insults about me carry as much weight as those people who insist that Obama is a Kenyan-born communist Muslim. You just smile and shake your head and scroll on. Also, I’ve been married for 20 years, I have real friends and family, and my parents loved me, so I can handle the insults. And let’s not forget that handy “mute” button.

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been working professionally since I was 22, and I’ve maintained many friendships and business relationships for a long, long time. These people know me as a pretty thoughtful, balanced guy. So the idea that I’m suddenly victim to this one huge breach with reality where I’ve lost my mind and am defending a child molester is pretty laughable.

But I’m hardly alone. There’s huge amounts of support out there for Allen. They’re generally less vocal than those screaming for his head. And some speak their support in whispers because they’re so intimidated by the current climate. But I can guarantee you, not one person out there is defending Allen because they’re pro-child molestation. They support him because they’ve considered the evidence, and they’ve reached the conclusion that the allegation does not hold up.

PM: If you came across some information that changed your mind, and convinced you that you’ve been wrong all this time, would you admit it?

RW: Oh, in a second. I mean, I’m hardly a public figure, but so many people identify me now with this issue, and I’ve stuck my neck out on so many occasions, it would be pretty irresponsible of me to change my mind and keep it to myself.

PM: Would you confront Woody?

RW: Confront? Well, I’d tell him what I knew. But Woody really has nothing to do with my position in this case. He’s never sat me down and made a case for his innocence. And I don’t support him because I admire his work. My position has come about from the research I’ve done, prior to my documentary and subsequently. I did once ask him how he manages to keep his head in the midst of all the noise, and he said, “I’m calm because I’m holding a royal flush — my innocence.” But yeah, I’d totally come forward if I found a smoking gun that turned me around. Believe me, I’ve been looking for one for a long time. But all the smoking guns I’ve found are pointed in the other direction.

I once casually asked Woody if he would sit down with Dylan, face-to-face.


PM: Where do you think this all ends?

RW: That’s a good question. One thing I know for sure, the Farrows may succeed in throwing some road blocks in Woody’s way, but they can’t stop him. A Rainy Day in New York is already due to come out in theaters overseas, and will eventually be released in the states – even if not by Amazon. He’s already prepping his next film, which he’ll shoot this summer in Spain. There may be actors who say they won’t work with him, but there are plenty of actors who will. And if Amazon stops funding his films, there are plenty of places eager to be in business with him. Maybe the awards slow down or stop, but he’s never cared about that stuff anyway.

As far as resolving this on a personal or familial level, I don’t know what it will take. I will tell you this — I once casually asked Woody if, given the opportunity, he would sit down with Dylan, face-to-face, at a place of her choosing, and give her the opportunity to confront him and say whatever she wanted to say. And he didn’t miss a beat. He said, “Of course.” Then I asked about Ronan. Same answer.

PM: Really? That’s kind of huge. Has he communicated that to them?

RW: I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe my saying it here will eventually find its way to them. I’d actually love to see that happen. Isn’t that what all alleged victims want, is an opportunity to confront the accused and say everything they’ve been dying to say? I mean she could scream and cry and swear at him… look him in the eye, ask him anything, tell him anything — have anyone else in the room. I’d think that would be pretty cathartic. It might not effectively change anything for her, but I don’t know what the downside would be.

PM: That’s really interesting. I wonder if she’d ever do it.

RW: I’m pretty certain she’d find an excuse not to. But I can say this — if she won’t seek justice by pursuing a civil case against him, and if she doesn’t take up an offer to confront him personally, for whatever healing value that might provide, then maybe this whole thing was never really about justice or healing in the first place.


Robert B. Weide is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose documentaries have covered the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was also the Executive Producer and director of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He tweets at @BobWeide.

The Truth About Woody Allen (Part I)

By Robert B. Weide

WoodyAtTypewriter
©B Plus Productions, LLC

INTRODUCTION:

With only a few exceptions, I’ve always turned down requests to be interviewed about the Woody Allen case. First of all, it’s a very complicated and unpleasant subject, and outside of writing a book, it simply can’t be covered in a way that’s comprehensive enough to do it justice. Every time I’ve written about it in the past, I’ve felt like I was just scratching the surface. Also, I do have a life and career outside of advocating for Woody Allen, so occasionally I have to devote my time to something that pays the bills. But among friends of mine, I have no problem talking about it – if they ask.

One such friend is a freelance reporter who writes a lot about film and media, and the few times a year that we have lunch, the conversation often turns to Woody Allen. He asked me recently if he could interview me about Allen for one of the publications he writes for. I was hesitant for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. Also, as much as I like to debunk the misinformation that people insist on rehashing, I don’t really like to be at the center of my own writing. Not to mention, I’m getting a little tired of re-litigating the specifics of the Allen case, as I’ve covered it so much already.

That said, I had been thinking recently about writing a new piece – one that would focus on the role of social media in the Allen debate, especially in light of the #MeToo movement. I finally decided that to get some of these ideas across in a conversational format might be a little less tedious than to tackle another essay. So I agreed to let my friend interview me under the condition we’d share editing duties. He agreed. We met at my house so that I could have some documents at hand when I needed to quote directly from other sources. We talked for more than three hours (including breaks for bathroom, coffee, and my walking the dog.)

When the transcript was completed, we wound up with more than 20,000 words, which we culled down to about 9,200 words – still far more than could be included in any publication to which he was planning to submit. We agreed that instead of paring down the interview any further, I would just publish it on my Word Press account where some of my other Woody essays appear. Even the edited version is admittedly a long read, so I’ve broken it up into two parts to allow the reader bathroom and coffee breaks and a chance to walk the dog. Although my friend was willing to have his name used in the piece, I have decided to protect him from the anticipated shit-storm, so he is referred to here only by the initials “P.M.” (which may or may not be his actual initials). Cheeky, huh?

I find that I play a much more central role in this piece than I would normally be comfortable with, but that’s where the conversation naturally led, so I went with it. Although we covered a lot of angles here, I still look at these 9,200 words and think mainly about everything that wasn’t included. Maybe that book isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Of course, you’re encouraged to click on any of the links that interest you.

Cheers,
Robert Weide
April 8, 2019


PM: Your Twitter account had been relatively Woody-free for a while, but recently you posted two threads on the topic – one dealing with a college journalism professor’s use of the Woody Allen case as an exercise in critical thinking, and another lengthy one dealing with actors who will and won’t work with Allen. So you clearly aren’t through with this topic. Why do you think people should still care about the Woody Allen case? Why do you still care about it?

RW: First, I live for the day I’ll be through with this topic and can go back to tweeting about my cat. Frankly, I would never suggest that anyone should care about it or even pay much attention to it. But since it involves a celebrity, it makes for great click bait, so we’re always going to hear about each new development, and that coverage will always carry a great degree of misinformation. Because I know a lot about this case, I feel an obligation to do what I can to set the record straight. But it is definitely a Sisyphean task.

I think the only sense in which it matters to the general public is in the larger context of what it says about how vulnerable anybody’s reputation and livelihood can be in this age of social media where innuendo and misinformation can so easily take someone down if due process is ignored. Woody will pull through all this. But it’s a cautionary tale. It could just as easily happen to you or me or any of the fourteen people reading this interview. Of course, plenty of people absolutely deserve to have their asses kicked to the curb, but it’s a very wide net that’s being cast right now, so care should be taken on a case-by-case basis. I thought Maureen Dowd’s recent lumping Allen in with Michael Jackson and Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby was really irresponsible journalism, but God knows, she’s not the first and she won’t be the last.

PM: Should we establish right up front your take on his guilt or innocence with regard to the allegation about him abusing Dylan Farrow when she was seven?

RW: Sure. I’m absolutely certain that the molestation charged in 1992 and reignited in 2014 did not take place. I’ll go a step further and say that I see no way any reasonable person who has really evaluated all the available facts in this case — and I’ve had access to more than the average person — could come away with any other conclusion. Sorry, I know we just lost seven of those fourteen readers, but there you are.

In fact, I think anyone’s belief that it did take place could only be a direct result of not looking at all the available information on both sides. Or looking at it and ignoring it. It’s the same thing we do with our politics – we tend to willingly take in news stories and editorials that already coincide with our own beliefs, then ignore or dismiss anything contradictory. You’re not allowed to do that when you sit on a jury. But in the court of public opinion, or in the Twittersphere, you’re under no obligation to look at it all, weigh it, and back up your conclusions among peers who have looked at the same evidence. But I’m realistic enough to know that among the few Woody-haters who get through this interview – if any — the takeaway is simply going to be, “That scumbag is still denying Dylan’s truth, like he knows better than her what happened.” That can’t be helped.

Believe me, a forensic examination of this case is not my idea of a good time. I understand why people don’t want to bother. It would have been so much easier for me to form my opinion by just gliding over all the hearsay. But when someone’s reputation and livelihood are at stake, I could never publicly express a strong opinion I’ve formed without first doing the proper homework.

I find it interesting that the social media set keeps asking “Why is Woody Allen still working in the MeToo era when so many others have been taken down?” It’s actually a very legitimate question with a very specific answer, but they prefer to view it as rhetorical.  They don’t really want to stick around for the answer because it unravels every misconception they cling to about this case.

PM: Can you understand or sympathize with someone who believes Dylan, or do you just think they’re nuts?

RW: Oh, god, of course I understand. In fact, I would be suspicious of anyone who would simply dismiss her accusation, out of hand. When a thirty-year-old woman says “My father sexually assaulted me when I was seven,” why wouldn’t you believe her and why wouldn’t your heart break for her? Now, I suggest this is the natural initial response, but the process doesn’t end there. If you’re going to have an informed opinion, you have to research both sides. If you leave out that part, you’re no more civilized than the person who simply dismisses the accusation, out of hand. You’re part of the torch and pitchfork crowd. Without due process, we would just imprison or execute anyone who gets a finger pointed at them. And in this case, due process was carried out a quarter century ago – long enough to take on a great amount of historical revisionism. But yes, I totally empathize with those who say they believe Dylan. It means they’re human and they’re empathetic. Those are good things to be. The tricky thing here is to look at this objectively without trashing the accuser, or, what’s the phrase now – taking away her agency? I’ve never called Dylan Farrow a liar, and I never will. But I still believe this alleged event did not take place. And those two statements are not mutually exclusive.

PM: Well, why would Dylan, or Mia [Farrow] for that matter, ever make the accusation if it weren’t true?

RW: Well, that, of course, is the million-dollar question. But there’s simply no way to distill an answer without deconstructing this whole case and spending tens of thousands of words on it.

For me, the real question is, does Dylan truly believe it happened, or is this knowingly a false accusation being leveled to settle some other score? I wouldn’t begin to pretend to know what’s going on inside her head, but I could make a case for either possibility. At the risk of speaking out of school, I will say that I’ve spoken to Woody about this, and he’s of the opinion that Dylan truly believes it. And from what Moses [Farrow] writes in his blog post, he seems to agree. Moses grew up in the same house, and his recollections of how Mia would coach and manipulate and rehearse her kids to carry out her wishes offers a lot of insight. But Moses was 14 when all this happened and was just on the cusp of thinking for himself. Dylan had just turned seven at the time. Ronan was only four, so he really learned Mia’s version at her knee, and has chosen to stick with her story.

But also consider this – in her 2014 New York Times piece in Nick Kristof’s column, Dylan recalls a very specific detail about the alleged assault in the attic. She talks about watching an electric train circling the perimeter of the attic all during the event. She says that she can’t even look at toy trains now without feeling sick. As I said, Dylan had just turned seven at the time. Moses was fourteen and says there was absolutely no electric train set in this crawlspace and there wouldn’t be room for one even if the kids wanted to set one up. He gives a very detailed description of this space as having a steeply gabled roof and open floorboards with exposed nails and mouse traps, and how it was crammed with Mia’s trunks. But he insists, no electric train. Now if we accept Moses’ statement that the train story is false, then this implies that Dylan is embellishing her story. And that suggests to me that she’s knowingly leveling a false accusation. Or if she honestly remembers a toy train that wasn’t there, and makes it the centerpiece, so to speak, of the event, then it calls into question the validity of the entire recollection.

I should mention that I’ve read all the transcripts from the custody trial, and the electric train story was never brought up in any testimony relating to the alleged assault. It makes its first appearance in 2014, twenty-two years after the fact.

PM: Has Dylan ever addressed Moses’ rebuttal about the train?

RW: No. After Moses’ blog post got a lot of attention, both Dylan and Ronan issued statements personally denouncing Moses and sticking up for Mia but they never addressed or countered the specific claims Moses made. Instead, they tried to go after his character, which is exactly what Moses said would happen. The funny thing is, if you read Moses’ blog, it’s entirely credible and precise and the pieces all fit together.

But back to whether Dylan actually believes the assault took place, the answer is, “I have no idea.” I know someone who’s currently researching the McMartin [preschool] case from the ‘80s, and I asked him how many of those kids — now grown adults — still think their abuse actually took place. He said the vast majority of them came to realize it didn’t. But there are still a few who believe it did.

The Twitter response to this will be “Woody Allen Defender Mansplains the MeToo Movement for You.”


PM: The abuse allegation was first made in 1992, then seemed to go away until it resurfaced in 2013, initially in a Vanity Fair article, and then in Dylan’s op-ed for the NY Times. Even then, it didn’t really seem to get much traction until it got swept up in the MeToo movement. But you told me earlier that you believe the accusation against Woody Allen has nothing to do with MeToo. Can you explain what you meant?

RW: Sure. Every case that’s part of the MeToo movement, that I’m aware of, has at least one thing in common: A woman or a man alleges an incident, or multiple incidents, of assault or harassment by someone, but finds themselves ignored or dismissed – or not taken seriously. This is assuming they come forward at all. MeToo is a movement that encourages survivors to speak out, and demands that they be taken seriously — that they be heard — and that the perpetrators should answer to their alleged crimes.

I’m smiling because I know the Twitter response to this will be “Woody Allen Defender Mansplains the MeToo Movement for You.” [laughs] But my personal opinion is that you’d have to be an idiot not to support the basic tenets of such a movement.

But those of us who were around in 1992 can tell you that Mia’s accusation on Dylan’s behalf was taken very seriously. It led the evening news for weeks. It made newspaper headlines and magazine covers around the world. More importantly, it triggered two state-sponsored investigations — one in Connecticut and one in New York — that went on for months and involved interviews and medical and psychiatric exams. This was at the center of a very long custody battle that went very public. So you can hardly make the claim that the accusation was not taken seriously, or swept under the rug. The fact is that these lengthy investigations — which were ordered by the prosecution, by the way — concluded that the abuse did not take place. Consequently, no charges were ever brought against Allen. That’s the reason it went away for all those years. A legal determination had been made, after which everyone went about their business. But the accusation was taken very seriously.

The other thing most MeToo cases have in common, is that for each person accused, there are often several accusers with similar stories. Weinstein and Cosby are, of course, the poster boys. But also for most of the others who have made headlines, you have many accusers telling similar stories. Woody Allen has had one accusation, made by an understandably furious ex-girlfriend, in the middle of contentious negotiations for visitation and financial support of three shared kids. And this single incident allegedly took place inside a home filled with children and adults who were instructed to keep an eye on him.

And the point should also be made that after 60 years in the public eye, Allen has not had a single accusation of inappropriate behavior lodged against him by anyone – in front of or behind the camera. That also separates him from all the MeToo cases I can think of. Many, many women are part of his production team, and you’ll not find one that doesn’t think very highly of him. And think of all the actresses whom he’s directed. Try to find one who will tell you of a single uncomfortable moment, on or off set. If there were such a person, don’t you think Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Ronan Farrow would have found them by now?

PM: The MeToo movement encourages us to “Believe all Women.” Do you accept that notion?

RW: Well, I’ll go with “Listen to all Women — Believe the Truth.” But that takes a little more effort and can get complicated.

I only recently watched Dylan’s interview on CBS, and she said something like (I’m paraphrasing), “Why is it easier to believe that this is a false memory someone put in my head than it is to believe that Woody Allen assaulted me?” And of course, the answer is it’s much easier to believe that Woody assaulted her than to believe this is a false memory, because it’s a less complicated, more streamlined narrative. But what’s hard or easy to believe is irrelevant. Arriving at the truth about the day in question involves a detailed examination of the facts. The idea of a false memory planted by Mia came from the state’s investigators, not from Woody.

Here’s my feeling: Standing by Dylan Farrow in the name of MeToo is kind of like standing by Elizabeth Holmes in the name of female entrepreneurship. You’re welcome to do so, but you may feel a bit let down once you dig a little deeper.

After 60 years in the public eye, Allen has not had a single accusation of inappropriate behavior lodged against him by anyone.


PM: You mentioned the two investigations. The first one was conducted by the Yale/New Haven clinic?

RW: The Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale/New Haven Hospital, yes.

PM: And the second one?

RW: The New York State Department of Social Services — the child welfare office.

NY Result
New York Times. October 26, 1993. NY Child Welfare Office finds Farrow accusation “unfounded” after 14 month investigation.

PM: I’ve heard the word “discredited” ascribed, I guess, to the Yale investigation.

RW: Yeah, the only ones who refer to that investigation as “discredited” are the Farrows and their followers. That’s only because it didn’t go the way they wanted. The Yale/New Haven team was about the most respected body in the country set with the task of investigating child sexual abuse cases. They were assigned this case by the Connecticut state prosecutor, Frank Maco. Believe me, people who work in child protection services love nothing more than nailing bad guys. The expectation is that they’ll submit their report to the prosecutor who can then use their findings to put these bastards away in a court of law. But in this case, they turn in a report to the prosecutor saying, “there’s nothing here.” And that was the end of filing any charges against Allen. The state no longer had a case. So suddenly the Farrows decide the Yale team is “incompetent” and “discredited.” Meanwhile, they still exist, and remain highly respected. And Dr. John Leventhal, the same guy who headed it up in 1992 still heads it today. But the Farrows want us to believe that in this one specific case, they suddenly didn’t know what they were doing and dropped the ball. I’m not certain how they explain the New York investigation reaching the same conclusion after 14 months.

PM: But what were their findings, exactly?

RW: Okay, I’m going to look at a print-out I have, because I don’t want to paraphrase their wording. Okay… they say, quote: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements… do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4, 1992.

“In developing our opinion, we had 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 third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow.  While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we cannot be definitive about whether the second [or third] formulation is true. We believe it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 11.28.30 PM
Excerpt from findings of Yale/New Haven Child Sexual Abuse Clinic, March 17, 1993.

PM: But I’ve also read a statement from Dylan Farrow claiming that she was never interviewed for this investigation, and that the researchers destroyed their notes. Does that seem suspect to you?

RW: Dylan was actually interviewed nine times as part of the investigation. It even gives the dates of the interviews. I think Dylan’s claim was that she was never interviewed by the lead doctor, John Leventhal, which is neither here nor there. In cases involving young children, possible victims of sexual abuse, girls are usually interviewed by women. Dylan’s interviews were conducted by social workers Jennifer Sawyer and Dr. Julia Hamilton, a Ph.D. If she had been interviewed by Dr. Leventhal, I’m guessing they would have called foul that this frightened little girl was questioned by a grown man. So there’s a lot of historical revisionism at work.

Dylan has also said that none of the other witnesses were interviewed for the report. Well, first of all, there were no “witnesses” to the alleged incident, but aside from Dylan, Mia, and Woody, the lead nanny, Kristi Groteke — who would later write a book about this case — was interviewed, as were Sophie Bergé, a French tutor who was in the house that day, and Dylan’s two therapists, Susan Coates and Nancy Schultz.  If there was anyone else whom the state thought was essential to their case, they would have been added to the list. Again, these people were working for the prosecutors, not for Allen.

PM: What about the destruction of the notes prior to submission of the findings? Dylan and Ronan have mentioned this many times.

RW: Yeah, I wondered about that myself until I spoke to someone who works in child protection services, and they told me this is very common protocol, also used in FBI investigations. Once the findings are written up, the original notes are often destroyed. Apparently, it’s meant to protect the privacy of the interview subjects. So this is hardly the smoking gun the Farrows want you to believe it is. I’ve said this elsewhere in one of my essays, but I assure you that if the investigation went the way Mia Farrow and the prosecutor hoped it would, nobody would be questioning the protocol of the Yale team.

The judge’s custody decision… wasn’t based on the allegation about Dylan.


PM: The judge’s findings in the custody case paint a pretty unflattering picture of Woody as a father. That document is in pretty heavy circulation on the internet among the pro-Dylan contingent.
(Note: Mia was awarded custody of Dylan and Ronan, who was then called Satchel.)

RW: Yes, now this is another matter that deserves much more examination than we can possibly include here, but I’ll clarify a few basic points. First, as you’ve just mentioned, this judge’s statement pertains to a custody trial, not a criminal case. As I’ve said, there was never a criminal case against Allen because the state had nothing to go on once the Yale Report came in — even though the prosecutor would still say there was “probable cause.” So this document you mentioned is the judge’s decision in the custody case. And yes, this guy, Judge Elliot Wilk, was not a Woody Allen fan. [laughs]. He was probably rooting for Star Wars to win Best Picture instead of Annie Hall.

Listen, lest you think I can give no quarter to the opposition, I will say this: I can understand the judge’s custody decision. I could effectively argue with any number of his specific points, but as far as his final decision, awarding custody to Mia was not so outrageous. But it wasn’t based on the allegation about Dylan. The judge’s big issue was that Woody remained in an intimate, sexual relationship with Soon-Yi, who, adopted or not, was still the sister of Dylan and Satchel. He could not see awarding custody of two children to Allen, when he’s in a relationship with their sister. Fair enough. Also, a big part of most custody decisions is, “who has maintained custody prior to the challenge?” And that, of course was Mia. Woody never even lived in the same apartment as she and the kids. That’s about 80% of the ball game right there, as judges don’t like to disrupt that precedent without very strong reason. The judge cites legal precedents for this in his ruling.

Now, I read all the time from Farrow supporters that Judge Wilk disagreed with the Yale findings and believed the assault actually did take place. But I’ll read the judge’s exact phrasing which is (quote), “I am less certain than is the Yale-New Haven team that the evidence proves conclusively that there was no sexual abuse.” (Unquote.) This is a far cry from saying he believes the abuse occurred. But of course, the Yale team is the one that conducted the investigation, not Judge Wilk. In that same statement, Judge Wilk admits, quote: “The evidence suggests that it is unlikely that [Allen] could be successfully prosecuted for sexual abuse.” So much for “probable cause.”

The judge also never suggests that Dylan be permanently separated from Woody to protect her from him. In fact, Wilk’s decision says that Dylan should be in therapy for six months to work through the trauma of the investigations and the split-up of her parents, after which she’d be re-evaluated, and if she had made good progress, then supervised visitation could begin with her father in a therapeutic context. By the time the custody case went to the appellate court, the appellate decision cited a testifying psychologist’s opinion that contact with her father was a necessary element of Dylan’s development.

Apellate WA role for Dylan
Excerpt from Appellate decision, NY Supreme Court, May 12, 1994.

I know these details get real boring, real fast. But once you study it, you see how even the custody decision has been misrepresented by the Farrows and their followers. Granted, none of this suggests that Woody falling in love with Soon-Yi was a smart move, but, you know, it happened, and the fall-out was massive, but they remain together and have raised two normal, healthy kids. As for Mia, out of her ten adopted kids, two are permanently estranged, and three are dead — two from suicide, and the third died in poverty. Mia also has one brother who committed suicide, and another brother who’s in prison for multiple counts of child molestation. The dysfunction in that family runs very deep, and has nothing to do with Woody and Soon-Yi.

[The therapist] specifically states that she perceived no sexual element to [Allen’s] behavior.


PM: What about the claim that Woody was in therapy to deal with his inappropriate feelings for Dylan?

RW: Yeah, you’re really hitting the top-ten list. This is another canard courtesy of the Farrows. The therapist this refers to was Dr. Susan Coates and she wasn’t Woody’s therapist, she was Dylan’s. Dylan and Satchel [Ronan] were both in therapy practically from the time they could talk. Mia and Woody had regular visits with Dylan in Coates’ office. In fact, one of the reasons Dylan was in therapy was that Woody and Mia felt she was having trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy.

Anyway, Woody finally becomes a father in his fifties when Mia adopts Dylan, and he adores this girl. He lavishes attention on her while completely ignoring Mia’s other kids, whose father was André Previn. Mia is concerned about Woody smothering Dylan with too much attention and asks him to talk to Coates — Dylan’s therapist — about boundaries and giving Dylan some space. Allen agrees to do so, and meets with Dr. Coates. That’s it! So the idea that Allen is in therapy for some kind of untoward attraction to Dylan is pure fabrication. Coates would testify about Allen’s “inappropriate” behavior, but solely in the context of him lavishing so much attention on his own daughter, while ignoring Mia’s other kids. In fact, she specifically states that she perceived no sexual element to his behavior. But that phrase “inappropriate behavior” is repeated by the Farrow clan like a mantra.

PM: If the abuse accusation against Allen is so patently false, why do you think it’s stuck this long?

RW: Here’s the problem: If you’re accused of a crime you truly didn’t commit, what do you say? “Not guilty.” But if you’re accused of a crime you actually did commit, what do you say? “Not guilty!” So you don’t get any points for declaring your innocence. You know… “that’s what they all say.” And who’s got time to go back and evaluate all the evidence, other than idiots like me?

By the way, I do believe the animosity Woody still faces among so many doubters has more to do with Soon-Yi than with Dylan. I’ve found that when people are presented with Dylan’s inconsistencies and all the evidence that contradicts her, they’ll often say, “Well, the guy slept with his girlfriend’s daughter. He’s a creep.” Or they take the position that anyone who could sleep with his girlfriend’s 21-year-old daughter could molest a seven-year old girl. If he can do “A,” he can do “B.” I agree with all the psychologists who take the position that one has nothing to do with the other. I also find that when you break down the misconceptions that people still have about Soon-Yi

PM: Such as?

RW: Well that she was underage, that she was Woody’s adopted daughter or stepdaughter, that he was grooming her, or that he was any kind of a father figure to her, or that Woody and Mia were married or even lived together – whenever you disabuse them of those falsehoods, what you finally get at the end of the day is, “Well, I still think he’s creepy.” Okay, so you personally think he’s creepy. That’s fine. But the stated goal of a few Farrows and their followers is that Woody should not be allowed to make movies anymore. He should be dead in the business. In her CBS interview, Dylan says, “Why shouldn’t I want to take him down?” But I say that’s not how things work in this country. If you don’t want to see his movies, don’t watch. He broke no laws. He fell in love with his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, who was of age, and whom he’s still with, 26 years later, and that’s not a valid reason to end someone’s career.

The animosity Woody still faces has more to do with Soon-Yi than with Dylan.


PM: You once said to me that what this boils down to is “emotion trumps facts.”

RW: Yeah, obviously. When a young woman says, “My father sexually assaulted me when I was seven,” that’s simply going to override anything else you have to say about this case. And I get it. Empathetic people want to come to the aid of an alleged victim. But before you malign the accused, you’d better get your facts straight.

I do wish that someone would produce a comprehensive, impartial documentary about this case, because that’s what seems to get the public’s attention these days. Look at the Steven Avery/ Brendan Dassey case. There was a confession and a conviction! Yet look at the public sentiment calling for their release, because “Making A Murderer” laid out the case for their innocence in a way that held people’s attention, and they could process it. Or look at the “Paradise Lost” child murders. Again, a confession and a conviction of three suspects — for multiple child murder! But after Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s films, public sentiment favored these guys and they were finally released after twenty years. For that matter, look at the Central Park Five. Once again, a confession and a conviction. But everyone who insisted on their guilt wound up eating their words.

PM: Except Donald Trump.

RW: [Laughs.] Yeah, true. But in Woody Allen’s case, not only was there no confession and no conviction, there wasn’t even a trial because there was nothing to charge him with. Yet the number of misinformed people who insist he’s guilty is astounding. It used to be “innocent until proven guilty.” Now it’s, “guilty until the Netflix series.”

It’s interesting that you mention Trump who insisted the Central Park Five be executed before they were even tried. But remember how, once the actual attacker confessed and the convictions were overturned, Trump still felt they should pay for the crime? That’s the role I see Ronan and Dylan Farrow playing in this case. The legal status of this accusation was determined 25 years ago, with Allen exonerated by two investigations. Even though no charges were brought, the Farrows still insist he be shut down because… well, because why? They don’t like the legal conclusion? I mean, isn’t Ronan a lawyer?

PM: I’m sure he’d love being compared to Donald Trump.

RW: That’s all right… he’s not reading this. But I think that particular shoe fits, in this case.

And while we’re tossing around Trump metaphors – you know these investigations in Allen’s case were not just cursory reviews. They were both quite detailed and thorough, interviewing all relevant parties; there were medical exams, psychological evaluations. The Yale-New Haven investigation took seven months, I believe. The New York child welfare inquiry took 14 months. You know, it’s like the Mueller investigation. Every time Mueller’s team handed down another indictment, Trump yelled “Fake news!” That’s basically the same tactic the Farrows have taken with these investigations — at least with Yale/New Haven. I’ve never heard them even acknowledge the New York outcome. It would be fun to hear them explain that one.

CLICK HERE FOR PART II


Robert B. Weide is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose documentaries have covered the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was also the Executive Producer and director of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He tweets at @BobWeide.

Moses Farrow Speaks Out

by Eric Lax

Writer/director Robert Weide has stated, “It is possible to believe in Woody Allen’s innocence without branding Dylan Farrow a liar.” The key to this seeming contradiction may be held by Moses Farrow. In this excerpt from the recent Eric Lax book “Start to Finish,” Moses is given an opportunity to share his memories of life under the Farrow roof.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Five months following the publication of this excerpt from the Eric Lax book, Moses Farrow would write about his childhood memories and the “day in question” in much greater detail in a first-person blog entitled “A Son Speaks Out.” Feel free to read the excerpt below, but we encourage you to read Moses’ more current essay, which you can find here.  – RBW

*********

Introduction by Robert Weide:

While I was writing my 2014 essay, The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast, for The Daily Beast, I discovered that Moses Farrow – the third child in the infamous 1992 custody case between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow – had been estranged from Mia Farrow for years, and was now happily reunited with Allen and Soon-Yi. I tracked down Moses easily enough through Facebook and asked if I could talk to him for my piece. I discovered Moses, now a licensed marriage and family therapist, to be an intelligent, soft-spoken, private young man who understandably had some reluctance to publicly weigh in on this highly personal and painful family matter. Rather than apply any pressure, I simply told him he was welcome to call me if he wanted to speak, either on or off the record. The next day, Moses contacted me to say he had been thinking about it, and realized he was not only willing to talk to me, but felt that he had to speak out, and welcomed the platform to do so.

Our follow-up conversation lasted almost two hours, during which Moses related to me one harrowing experience after another about life in the Farrow compound. After we got off the phone and I reviewed my hand-written notes, I realized that there was no way for my essay to include Moses’ recollections, as I was already approaching 5,000 words, and doing justice to Moses’ story would push the length past the tipping point. Instead, I made only the briefest reference to Moses and his unhesitating use of the phrase “brainwashing” to describe the household experience from which he finally made his escape.

Soon after my piece appeared in The Daily Beast, Moses provided a statement for a follow-up article by People magazine, and just last year spoke at some length with author Eric Lax who was writing a book entitled, “Start to Finish: Woody Allen and the Art of Moviemaking,” chronicling Woody Allen’s creative process from script to screen during his 2014 production of Irrational Man (originally titled The Boston Story). One thread in the film’s story-line involves a woman who is devastated by a judge’s predisposition against her in a child custody case. This provides Lax with a jumping-off point to explore the custody chapter in Allen’s own life, which ultimately led to a new interview with Moses. With Lax’s permission, I have excerpted that portion of his book for this post.

In my initial conversation with Moses in 2014, he told me, “My mother’s worst nightmare was that one of the kids would one day break from the clan and start speaking out.” Indeed, Moses’ recollections about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his adoptive mother does throw a bit of a monkey-wrench into the Mia/Ronan/Dylan narrative, so it’s not surprising that the Farrow camp would view it as a fire that needs to be put out. Mia herself would claim, “It’s heartbreaking and bewildering that [Moses] would make this up.” The ultimate irony perhaps is that Dylan, in her L.A. Times Op-Ed, would call the recollections of her abused brother, “insignificant.” In my own writing, I have said that it’s possible to believe in Woody Allen’s innocence without branding Dylan Farrow a liar. If that sounds at all contradictory or cryptic, I would suggest the key to this puzzle can be found in Moses’ very lucid recollections.

Finally: In my most recent essay responding to Dylan Farrow’s Op-Ed for the L.A. Times (which you might want to read for added context), I state that Moses’ reflections of life in the Farrow household get “real dark, real fast.” In that context, I can verify that what Lax has included in his book, and what I’ve quoted from Moses in my own writing, is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Whether Moses will, at some point, make a more complete statement, shining a light on some remaining mysteries, is a decision much on his mind these days.

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Excerpt from “Start to Finish” by Eric Lax:

Moses Farrow was born in Korea in 1978, afflicted with cerebral palsy. He was abandoned in a telephone booth, taken to an orphanage, and adopted by Farrow when he was two. In 1985 she adopted Dylan; in 1991 Woody became his adoptive parent as well.

Now a thirty-nine-year-old family therapist, Moses speaks of a childhood in which his mother created an atmosphere “in which I felt the constant need to gain her trust and approval.”

In his earliest memories, “I was awoken in the middle of the night by Mia. I was in kindergarten. I slept in the girls’ room with [my adopted sisters] Lark and Daisy, on the lower bed of the bunk. Mia pulled me out of it. I was still half asleep as she repeatedly asked in a harsh tone if I had taken her pills. It wasn’t out of concern that I had swallowed any, but rather accusing me that I had stolen them from her. She took me to her bathroom. I was crying as she stood over me, scowling. I told her a dozen or so more times that I hadn’t taken them, but finally I said what she wanted to hear. I was forced to lie. However, simply telling her I took them didn’t suffice, and more questions ensued. I had to elaborate on the lie and tell her I had taken four or five pills because I thought they were Tic Tacs.  She pulled me over to the sink and directed me to put her bar of soap in my mouth and then instructed me to wash out my mouth, telling me that lying is a bad thing to do. Once I dried my mouth she put me back to bed. The next day I searched for the missing pills and found them under the cabinet between the toilet and the bathtub; however, I never mentioned it to her out of fear of getting into more trouble. This was the first time I felt truly fearful of her, and it was the start of her instilling fear in me. It began the very long and impossible task of gaining her approval. I can recall numerous times that she let me know the burden was on me to gain her trust.

“The summer between first and second grades, she was having new wallpaper installed in the bedroom I slept in, across the hall from hers on the second floor of the house in Connecticut. She was getting me ready to go to sleep, and when she came over to my bed she found a tape measure. I didn’t even know what it was. She had a piercing look on her face that stopped me in my tracks. It was really scary. She asked if I had taken it. She used that familiar voice I had become attuned to as she explained she had been looking for it all day. I stood in front of her, frozen.  She asked why it was on my bed. I told her I didn’t know, that perhaps the workman left it there. After a couple more demands for the answer she wanted, she slapped my face, knocking off my glasses. She told me I was lying. She directed me to tell my brothers and sisters that I had taken the tape measure. Through my crying and tears I listened to her as she explained that we would rehearse what should have happened. She told me that she would walk into the room and I would tell her I was sorry for taking the tape measure, that I had taken it to play with and that I would never do it again. We practiced at least a half dozen times. It became late, I was afraid and had cried myself out. Once she was satisfied, she took me to the rocking chair and rocked me. After a short while she brought me downstairs and made hot chocolate for me before putting me to bed. That was the start of her coaching, drilling, scripting, and rehearsing.

“Over the next few years, I continued to become more anxious and fearful. At that point, I had learned to fight, flee, or freeze. I often chose the latter two. For instance, as a young child, I was given a new pair of jeans. I thought they would look cool if I cut off a couple of the belt loops. When my mother found I had done this, she spanked me repeatedly—as was her way—and had me remove all my clothes saying, ‘You’re not deserving of any clothes.’ Then she had me stand naked in the corner of her room.”

Monica Thompson was a nanny in the Farrow household from 1986 to 1993. In a January 1993 affidavit to Woody’s lawyers reported by the Los Angeles Times, she said that around 1990 she saw Farrow slap Moses across the face because he could not find a dog’s leash. “The other children were horrified and told their mother that it could not have been Moses who lost the leash. Farrow told the children that it was not their place to comment on the incident. The children were scared of their mother and did not like to confide in her because they were afraid of what their reactions might be.” (Thompson acknowledged that in 1992 she had told Connecticut police that Farrow was a good mother and did not hit her children but that she had lied because she was pressured to support the charges against Woody and feared losing her job. She resigned in January 1993 after being subpoenaed to testify in the custody battle.)

On at least one occasion, Moses fought back. “One summer day in the Connecticut house, Mia accused me of leaving the curtains closed in the TV room; they had been drawn the day before when Dylan and Satchel were watching a movie. She insisted that I had closed them and left them that way. Her friend had come over to visit and while they were in the kitchen, my mother insisted I had shut the curtains. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and I lost it.  I yelled at her, ‘You’re lying!’ She shot me a look and took me into the bathroom next to the TV room.  She hit me uncontrollably all over my body. She slapped me, pushed me back and hit me on my chest.  She said, ‘How dare you say I’m a liar in front of my friend. You’re the pathological liar.’ I was defeated, deflated, and beaten down. Mia had stripped me of my voice and my sense of self. It was clear that if I stepped even slightly outside her carefully crafted reality, she would not tolerate it. Yet, I grew up fiercely loyal and obedient to her, even though I lived in extreme fear of her. Based on my own experience, it’s possible that Mia rehearsed with Dylan what she ended up recording on video. As she had done with me, it’s conceivable she set the stage, the mood, and scripted what was to take place.”

Around the time of the custody trial in 1993, a person who went often to the Farrow home found Dylan crying one day. The story has been confirmed with someone else who often visited. “Dylan asked me, ‘Is it okay to lie?’ She felt she didn’t want to lie and wondered, What would God think? She wanted an Attic Kids doll, but Mia forbade it. This was shortly before Dylan was to speak with someone connected with the trial. She said, ‘Mom wants me to say something I don’t want to say.’ Then the next week she had the Attic Kids doll with a yellow dress. I asked, ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘I did what my mom asked.’”

The story does not surprise Moses, who adds, “This, I can speak to with confidence. Mia’s ability and intent to mold her children to do her bidding was matched by her living in constant fear her secrets of abusive parenting would be divulged and the reputation she built as the loving mother of a large brood of adopted kids would be destroyed. My biggest fear was that we would be rejected, excommunicated rather, from her and the family. I lived in constant threat of this happening. As an adopted child, there is no bigger fear than to lose your family.”

Soon-Yi Previn says, “She just liked to pick on people. She chose the easy, vulnerable targets. She had a fierce temper. On one occasion, she kicked me and hit me again and again with the phone. She was always physical and violent with us. I learned to stay away from her and keep in survival mode, but Moses got the brunt by being too innocent, too sweet, to grasp the situation. She was regularly mentally and physically abusive to him.”

After Woody and Soon-Yi began their relationship, Moses spent “many days and nights with Mia offering support.” One day Moses went by himself to the end of the driveway to the Connecticut house to denounce Woody to the assembled media throng.

“Being thirteen, I felt that this was the right mindset,” he says. “I was showing loyalty to my mother. Mia already established with us that, ‘You have to be with me or you’re against me. We’re in a battle. This is a custody fight. We have to stick together as a family.’”

As the custody battle continued, however, Moses found that despite his reflexive loyalty to Farrow, he was emotionally torn between his parents. In a meeting with Judge Renee Roth, who had overseen his adoption, Moses recalls being told that Woody had proposed that Moses come to live with him. The powerful feeling to undo an injustice echoes the distraught mother in “The Boston Story” who is about to lose custody of her children. “I believe that Woody knew what kind of mother Mia was at that point,” says Moses. “He was trying to protect his kids and was trying to offer a better life with the kindness and love and affection, that’s who he is.” Because he found “the loyalty Mia demanded was overpowering,” Moses chose to stay with her and soon became a boarding student at Kent School in Connecticut.

He had a psychological evaluation done in the wake of the high emotions of the custody case. “I shared my truth and told the psychologist that I felt like I was a pawn.  I was torn between both Mia and Woody. After his report was submitted, I received a very upsetting call from Mia at school. She said, ‘You’ve destroyed my case! I can’t believe you said that you are torn. You have to recant your statement. You have to call your lawyer and make this right.’” Moses did as he was told.

He recalls his boyhood relationship with Woody as the opposite of his mother’s. “He would come over to our apartment every morning at 6:30. I used to love to wake up before the others, and he and I would be at the kitchen table together. He would always bring two newspapers and half a dozen or so massive muffins—blueberry, corn, wheat. He’d open up The New York Times and sit there turning pages, and I’d take The New York Post and go straight to the comics and word puzzles. We would read together before waking Dylan. It was peaceful and memorable. He’d make a couple of slices of toast with cinnamon and honey and be there as she ate her breakfast. He really seemed to enjoy taking care of her. He was a caring father to me. He helped me feel good about myself, and I felt he did everything he could to include us in his life.” (Woody’s production company for many years was called Moses Productions. He had another called Dylan and Satchel Productions.)

Moses believes that in no way did Woody sexually abuse Dylan. The molestation accusation against Woody was “calculated. Mia had a judge who seemed sympathetic to her case, she found a lawyer who helped craft her arguments, she used her influence as a mother over her own children and used it to gain favor in the media.”

He adds, “The instance of Mia telling Woody that she had something planned for him is the way she operated. On the one extreme, she went on uncontrollable rages, but she also made carefully crafted plans. She instilled fear. She demanded obedience. It wasn’t just a few slaps on the cheek but extremely disproportionate actions. Now that I no longer live in fear of her rejection, I am free to share how she cultivated and brainwashed me as she has done with Ronan and Dylan. In 2002, I told Mia I wanted to reach out to Woody. Her initial response was understanding and motherly: ‘I can see you miss having a father, and I’ll support you.’ However, not twenty-four hours later she told me, ‘I forbid you to contact Woody.’” However, he did and they reunited. Farrow has broken off with Moses.

In February 2014, while Woody was in the midst of the preproduction and casting of “The Boston Story,” Nicholas D. Kristof gave over his column in The New York Times to an open letter from Dylan in which she detailed the alleged 1992 sexual assault by Woody: “[My father] told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me… 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.”

It is a heartrending letter, all the more so because undoubtedly she believes every word of it. But the attic was not the first place the alleged abuse happened and apart from the letter’s details not being consistent with what she told the Yale-New Haven investigators, Moses says there is a central problem with the recollection: “I assure you, there was no electric train set in that attic. There was nothing practical about that space as a place for kids to play, even if we wanted to. It was an unfinished attic with exposed fiberglass insulation. It smelled of mothballs, and there were mouse traps and poison pellets left all around. My mother used it for storage where she kept several trunks full of hand-me-down clothes, that sort of thing. The idea that the space could possibly accommodate a functioning electric train set, circling around the attic, makes no sense at all. One of my brothers did have an elaborate model train set, but it was set up in the boys’ room, a converted garage on the first floor. Maybe that was the train set my sister thinks she remembers.” Mia Farrow described the area in a deposition made in 1992 as “a crawl space…where the eave kind of drops.”

Moses told People magazine in 2014, “Of course Woody did not molest my sister. 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 toward him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces… I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible.”

Farrow declined to respond to People regarding Moses’s accusations but tweeted, “I love my daughter. I will always protect her. A lot of ugliness is going to be aimed at me. But this is not about me, it’s about her truth.” Dylan said of Moses in the People article, “He is dead to me.” She also said, “I don’t know where he gets this about getting beaten. We were sent to our rooms sometimes.”

Monica Thompson was not in the house the day of the alleged incident but, according to the Los Angeles Times article, said in her affidavit that when she came to work the next day, “Moses came over to me and said that he believes that Ms. Farrow made up the accusation that was being said by Dylan.” It has been argued that Woody paid her salary and that therefore she is somehow less reliable but he did that only indirectly; he says he gave Farrow $1 million of the salary he received in 1990 for acting in Paul Mazursky’s Scenes from a Mall for the general welfare of their children.

On the 1970 album On My Way to Where by Dory Previn (she married André Previn in 1959 and divorced him in 1970 after he impregnated Mia Farrow) is a song about incest, “With My Daddy in the Attic.” The lyrics include: “And he’ll play / His clarinet / When I despair / With my / Daddy in the attic.” Woody said that Dory—who died in 2012—called him at the time of the molestation allegation to say “that’s where Mia got the story line for her concocted tale.”

Before Linda Fairstein became a best selling author, she was director of the first sex crimes unit in the United States, appointed in 1976 by New York City District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. Until 2002 she oversaw the investigation of thousands of allegations of child and sexual abuse, and she has an informed opinion on this one.

“Once there was the suggestion that Woody Allen was involved with Soon-Yi, then there’s every reason for Mia Farrow to be doing something from angry to insane, and there’s no better weapon than your children. So take the weakest link—the youngest, the girl—and whatever you want to say that would make the public believe you are dealing with a monster, is to make this claim.

“When the story came out that Mia had videotaped Dylan”—in eleven segments shot at different times in different places, one nude in a bathtub, others outside showing her topless—“it sounded to me like one of the craziest things I’d ever heard. On every level, it’s the last thing you would do. First of all, videotaping her naked while asking again and again about what happened. Why are you exposing your child to these videos that someday will possibly be in the hands of the public or in the courtroom? That fact alone set off every alarm.”

In regard to Farrow’s telling Woody, “You took my child, I’m going to take yours,” Fairstein adds, “That sounds so real to me. That’s the kind of venom I’m used to seeing in this kind of case: You’ve ruined my life, I’m going to hit you where it hurts most. The idea of saying to a public figure just about the worst thing you could have as a newspaper headline about them is totally in keeping with how these cases are used in matrimonial matters.”

Fairstein cites studies that have been done over the past twenty years on “How suggestible children are. Dylan’s been told a story, and there’s only one person left to please. Daddy’s already been thrown out of the picture. How frightening. Like any kid, you’re wanting to be with, if not two parents, the one parent. So I don’t imagine from that point on she was free to tell any other story. If you believe as I do that the allegation is false, then it is the fault of the woman who created the allegation who has mortally wounded this child.

“I was in the district attorney’s office thirty years, and this was my specialty for twenty-eight of them, so there were thousands of abuse cases in which I had a direct or supervisory role. I have no reason to believe this event happened.”


Excerpt from “Start To Finish: Woody Allen and the Art of Moviemaking” ©2017 by Eric Lax. Reprinted with permission by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.

Robert Weide tweets at @BobWeide.

Q&A With Dylan Farrow

By Robert Weide

In a recent Op-Ed for the L.A. Times, Dylan Farrow asks, ““Why Has the #MeToo Revolution Spared Woody Allen?” Robert Weide, who did extensive research into the allegations against Woody Allen when preparing his PBS documentary on the filmmaker, attempts to answer Ms. Farrow’s question.

Whenever Woody Allen has a new film coming out (which happens like clockwork, once a year) or receives another award (which happens almost as often), we know we’re going to hear once again from the Farrow family. And sure enough, Allen’s new movie Wonder Wheel opened on December 1, and less than a week later, a new Op-Ed comes our way from Dylan Farrow, entitled, “Why Has the #MeToo Revolution Spared Woody Allen?” Rhetorical or not, it’s a legitimate question and calls for a well-considered answer.

For those who aren’t yet burned out on this matter and still follow this annual event, one other thing is certain: Whenever the Farrows issue another editorial, soon after, you get stuck hearing from me — that obsessed Woody Allen defender. Believe me, it’s not my favorite thing to do, and I’ve got plenty else on my plate to keep me busy. I can only compare it to donating blood every year – I don’t look forward to it exactly, but it seems important. Also, admittedly, I have almost a pathological indifference to what strangers on social media think of me. Twitter attacks on my character are taken with the same seriousness as those who insist President Obama was a Kenyan-born communist Muslim. Threats of violence get reported, and haters get muted (rarely blocked). And suffice it to say, when a reader accuses me of having a financial stake in this issue, or assumes I’m a PR hack for Allen’s publicist, it says volumes about the accuser, but nothing about me.

This is my third piece on the matter. Additional context will be provided if you’ve already read the previous two, though it’s not essential. I try to pick up where the last one left off, so as not to rehash the same information, though some repetition is inevitable. For those who offer uninformed retorts like, “But he married his underage daughter!” chances are I’ve already addressed their point in an earlier piece. (That particular fiction is debunked in my Daily Beast essay.) Revelations about Dylan’s child molesting uncle, the invisible train set, Mia Farrow’s support of Roman Polanski, are all covered in my past writing.

The Farrows’ editorials will never link to my own essays, or Woody Allen’s 2014 response in the N.Y. Times. But I always link to their material, because to critically consider this matter, you should read all points of view. So…

     •  Here’s my original 2014 piece for The Daily Beast.

     •  Here’s Dylan Farrow’s 2014 letter to the New York Times.

     •  Here’s Woody Allen’s response to Dylan’s piece.

     •  Here’s Ronan Farrow’s 2016 Op-Ed for the Hollywood Reporter.

     •  Here’s my response to Ronan’s essay.

     •  Here’s Dylan’s recent Op-Ed for the L.A. Times.

     •  (New piece added Jan. 4, 2018: Moses Farrow Speaks Out)

Exhausted already?

This time around, I’m going to respond to specific points raised in Dylan Farrow’s L.A. Times editorial. I’m not reprinting the whole thing, but I’ve provided the link, so hopefully you’ve read it. Instead, I will cut and paste excerpts from her essay, followed by my response.

The only other preamble I’ll provide is this: I’ve never accused Dylan Farrow of lying, and never will. If you’ve read my 2016 piece on WordPress, you’ll know my position is that one can believe in Woody Allen’s innocence, without branding Ms. Farrow a liar. That should be considered subtext to everything I have to say. Also, if my tone sounds glib or sardonic, that’s only because I am glib and sardonic. This does not diminish the seriousness of this issue. I take Dylan Farrow’s right to speak her mind as seriously as I take the ongoing persecution of a man whom I believe is innocent. Also, this is not about me. Frankly, I don’t even care about changing anyone’s mind. My self-appointed role is merely to provide information that the Farrow family and their surrogates won’t tell you, and correct misinformation that they repeatedly disseminate.

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DYLAN FARROW: I have long maintained that when I was 7 years old, Woody Allen led me into an attic, away from the babysitters who had been instructed never to leave me alone with him.

ROBERT WEIDE: Yes, everyone in that household was indeed on red alert, because Allen had become involved with Mia’s 20-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. How odd that he would choose this moment to sneak a child into an attic in Mia’s house, full of children and nannies and hostile adults who were instructed never to leave him alone. I asked Dylan’s brother Moses Farrow where his mother was at this time. “Conveniently out shopping,” was his reply.

As to the location of this alleged assault, it changed over time. First it was the TV room, and then a staircase, before finally settling on the attic.

DF: I told the truth to the authorities then, and I have been telling it, unaltered, for more than 20 years.

RW: This case is actually 25 years old now, but the initial reporting of the alleged assault underwent so many alterations, I can’t possibly list them all. An investigative summary cited later in this piece lists some of these inconsistencies. I wouldn’t hold them against Dylan, who was barely seven at the time. But Mia Farrow’s accounting was hardly “unaltered.”

DF: Why is it that Harvey Weinstein and other accused celebrities have been cast out by Hollywood, while Allen [continues working]?

RW: It’s called due process. It was carried out in 1992 when two separate investigations found there was no credibility to Mia’s accusations, so no charges were ever brought against Allen. He lost the custody battle, but as a legal matter, the assault accusation has been a non-issue for 25 years. The fact that there are members of the Farrow family and others who remain angry at Allen is not a basis for studios to stop funding his movies, or for his fans to stop attending them.

DF: At the time of the alleged assault…

RW: It’s interesting that Farrow repeatedly refers to the “alleged” assault. I assume she was instructed to do so by a lawyer or an editor to prevent a lawsuit. Probably a good idea.

DF:  …he was in therapy for his conduct towards me.

RW: The Farrows and their followers push this notion repeatedly, and it might be fairly damning if only it were true. With a hiatus here and there, Woody Allen has famously been in therapy for most of his adult life for any number of neuroses. The idea that he was in therapy specifically for inappropriate feelings or conduct toward Dylan is a canard of the highest order, and no one has ever offered any evidence that this was the case.

DF: Allen refused to take a polygraph administered by the Connecticut state police.

RW: Allen was actually never asked to take a polygraph test by the CT State police. However, soon after Mia made her accusation, Allen voluntarily submitted to a polygraph test by an independent examiner. Some low-information commentators have implied that Allen’s legal team must have found someone who could be paid off to fudge the results. In fact, the examiner was the most respected man in the field, Paul Minor (1940- 2015). He had been Chief of the Polygraph Office for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he was the Chief Polygraph Examiner for the FBI. (He not only taught polygraphology at the FBI Academy, but had set up the entire program there.) Minor conducted polygraph tests in the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas case, the Jon Benet Ramsey case, Enron, O.J. Simpson, DeLorean, and others. Allen fully passed the test. The results were submitted to the CT State police, with Minor flying in to answer questions. The State police concurred with Minor’s findings, which is probably why they never proposed administering their own test. Mia was then asked by Woody’s lawyers to take a reciprocal polygraph test. She wouldn’t. Maybe it’s not too late.

DF: A prosecutor took the unusual step of announcing that he had probable cause to charge Allen but declined in order to spare me, a ‘child victim,’ from an exhausting trial.

RBW: Did that prosecutor, Frank Maco, ever divulge what that “probable cause” was? If so, I’d be very interested to hear it. His “probable cause” statement actually earned him a stern rebuke from a state disciplinary panel who called his statement, “inappropriate, unsolicited, and potentially prejudicial.” Two years later, the reprimand was overturned, so we might call this one a draw.

Many lawyers I’ve spoken with say that if a prosecutor legitimately feels he/she has probable cause in a case as serious as this, they will almost always prosecute. Some have told me they would be obligated to prosecute. Saying you have probable cause without taking on the case is generally seen as a face-saving measure. (Sort of like Trump finally disbanding the Commission on Voter Fraud, “despite substantial evidence of voter fraud.”) If the concern was really about putting young Dylan Farrow through an exhausting trial, I’ve often wondered why Mia Farrow didn’t sue Woody Allen in civil court once Dylan was old enough to withstand the trial, before the statute of limitations ran out, with all parties being under oath.

DF:  It is a testament to Allen’s public relations team and his lawyers that few know these simple facts.

RW: These simple facts that “few know” are repeatedly plastered all over the internet, every time this matter is brought up – often in the “comments” section, lacking full context or explanation. Allen’s public relations team and lawyers are doing a lousy job of keeping these “facts” secret. Their total control of the internet appears to be slipping.

DF: Kate Winslet… Blake Lively… Greta Gerwig… etc.

RW: I’ve said it before, but shaming actors who work with Allen is not the best way to endear them to the Farrow camp’s cause. It’s merely a cynical attempt to put actors on notice that if you dare work with Allen, you’ll have to answer to the Farrows. All it really does is enrage the Twitter mobs and engender the occasional death threat against people Dylan Farrow claims to admire. Why not be consistent and also call out the girl selling popcorn at the concession stand where Allen’s movies are playing?

Woody Allen has averaged an output of one film per-year since 1969. In researching his career, I have yet to find one single actor or actress who claims they were mistreated by the director in any way. This is perhaps more meaningful to actors than the threat of having to face Dylan Farrow’s “for-me-or-against-me” dictum.

DF: Allen’s public relations team, led by Leslee Dart of the firm 42 West, jumps into action whenever allegations resurface.

RW: I have to score this one for the Farrows. It is well known that Woody Allen is the only celebrity who has a publicist who responds to allegations.

DF: In retaliation for Ronan’s story, Dart barred [The Hollywood Reporter] from a lunch event related to Allen’s feature at the Cannes Film Festival.

RW: The Hollywood Reporter timed Ronan’s hatchet job on Allen to appear on the same day as the Cannes Press junket for Café Society. Why wouldn’t they be banned from the lunch event after such an ambush?

Incidentally, then-editor of the Hollywood Reporter, Janice Min, admitted to me that her publication was “100% supposed to loop in” Leslee Dart on the article days in advance (which would be normal journalistic protocol), but they “totally, completely dropped the ball.” She admitted she was “mortified.” Anyway, I’m sure the publication survived not being invited to the free lunch. It’s like me being blocked on Twitter by Ronan and Mia Farrow. It’s a terrible tragedy, but somehow, we manage to go on.

DF: Allen’s savvy affiliates know that it’s unseemly to direct attacks at me, an alleged victim, and so the invective is directed at my mother again and again.

RW: I don’t know if I can speak for the other savvy affiliates, but why is it out of bounds to point out Mia Farrow’s relentlessly hypocritical behavior, as explained in my two earlier pieces? (Her defense of Roman Polanski in his probation report is only the tip of the iceberg.) Since it was Mia Farrow who charged Woody Allen with this crime, and continues to repeat it 25 years later, it’s kind of hard to leave her out of the conversation. There are many, many people who believe this whole case boils down to Mia Farrow’s (understandable) rage at Woody Allen for falling in love with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn (his wife now for more than 20 years). But it’s a little hard to un-ring the bell once you know of Mia’s middle-of-the-night phone call to Allen promising, “You took my daughter, and I’m going to take yours.” In another call she warned him, “I’ve got something planned for you.” When Allen asked, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” she replied, “No this is worse.” I give her credit for being good to her word.

Assuming she even knows about it, I wonder what Dylan makes of the fact that within days of Mia’s accusation, her attorneys called a meeting with Allen’s lawyers, and offered to drop the abuse charges for a price tag of $7 million. (I’ve spoken to four different lawyers in the room that day. Their stories all match up.) So, no, Mia Farrow does not get a free pass.

DF: Especially painful is that Allen even managed to enlist my brother Moses against me.

RW: Allen hardly “enlisted” Moses to speak out about his life under the Farrow roof. Moses, who is now a licensed marriage and family therapist, reached out to his estranged father after finally “escaping the clan” (his words). Years after his reconciliation with Allen, it was I who first asked Moses to go on the record for my Daily Beast piece. This was followed by a lengthier quote for People magazine, and the revelation of more details in Eric Lax’s recent book, “Woody Allen: Start to Finish.” Make no bones about it — in the Lax book, Moses refers to the brainwashing tactics used in the household, and is very concise about severe beatings he suffered at Mia’s hands when he would not go along with her pre-scripted narratives, or bend to her will. “Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation,” says Moses, “because to be on her wrong side was horrible.”

DF: Moses’ comments are devastating, but like so many of the attacks on my story, irrelevant: Moses was not there for the alleged assault.

RW: How interesting that Dylan Farrow would claim that the recollections of an abused child are “irrelevant.” At least it’s a step up from Dylan’s reply at the time Moses first came forward: “My brother is dead to me.” Granted it would be hard for Moses to be present at an event that “allegedly” took place, but he was home on the day in question, along with several other children and adults, and claims that Dylan and Allen were never off alone together. What Moses did witness was Mia “drumming [the story]” of the assault into Dylan’s head, any number of times.

In my first interview with Moses, he told me, “My mother’s worst nightmare was that one of the kids would one day break from the clan and start speaking out.” Moses has only gone public with a fraction of what he witnessed, and after hearing his recollections, I can understand why Mia would have nightmares. This stuff gets real dark, real fast.

DF: [Some publications] repeat that my allegations were made during a custody dispute. In fact, Allen sued for custody of me and Ronan only after the investigation into child abuse began.

RW: That’s correct. Allen sued for custody only after Mia Farrow lodged her accusation. Allen says that once he saw the direction Mia was taking, he wanted to get their shared kids out of that house before they were all victimized by the escalating ugliness of her claims. However, before the custody suit was filed, Allen and Mia were already in negotiations regarding visitation and support payments for the three shared children.

Sidebar: It’s interesting that many people have written about Allen’s intimidating legal team, when Mia’s attorney during this phase of negotiations was a simple country bumpkin lawyer named Allan Dershowitz.

DF: Many point to a questionable 1993 report that concluded no abuse had taken place. The author of that report never interviewed me, and the team later destroyed all of its notes without explanation.

RW: The Farrows would surely love to dismiss this “questionable 1993 report,” but it’s not so easy. This report was actually the summary of an extensive six-month investigation by The Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale/New Haven Hospital, ordered by the Connecticut State Police, which concluded, decisively and unambiguously, that “Dylan was not abused by Mr. Allen.” As to why the team felt that Mia’s charges didn’t hold water, the summary states: “We had two hypotheses: one, that [Dylan’s] statements [were] made by an emotionally disturbed child and then became fixed in her mind. And the other hypothesis was that she was coached or influenced by her mother. We did not come to a firm conclusion. We believe that it is [likely] a combination of these two formulations.” The Farrows can’t seem to mention this study by name, nor will they tell you that the summary of their findings are available on-line for anyone to read. Despite Dylan Farrow’s insistence that she was not interviewed for this investigation, the summary lists the precise dates of the nine interviews conducted with her between 18 September, and 13 November, 1992.

The only thing “questionable” about this investigation is why Judge Elliot Wilk deemed the findings “inconclusive” when they were anything but. Could it be that the conclusion simply wasn’t what Wilk and Prosecutor Maco were hoping for? It’s surely easier to say there is “probable cause” and drop the case, rather than prosecute it and have that report rearing its ugly head throughout the trial. It should also be pointed out that despite Judge Wilk’s dismissal of the report, he never made any contradictory finding.

Judge Wilk laid it off on the fact that only the summary was entered as evidence, and as Dylan Farrow points out, the original notes were destroyed. The Farrow family seems to cling to this point as the magic bullet that allows them to discard the study’s conclusions. So here’s a brief summary of my own research: The State commissioned Yale/New Haven investigation followed the same basic protocol as an FBI investigation. Once a summary has been prepared, it is not uncommon for the investigative body to destroy their notes. This is done, in part, to protect the privacy of the interview subjects. One thing I’m certain of – if the conclusion of the investigation had gone their way, no one in the Farrow camp would be questioning the methodology used by the investigative team.

If anyone wishes to dismiss the Yale/New Haven report, they’ll also need to negate the entirely separate 14-month investigation conducted by the N.Y. State Department of Social Services (the “Child Welfare” office), which reached the same conclusion as Yale-New Haven: “No credible evidence was found that the child named in this report has been abused or maltreated. This report has, therefore, been considered unfounded.” How could all these official investigations get it so wrong? How many people could Woody Allen pay off?

I repeat here a very important point that even many of Allen’s supporters do not fully grasp: Allen wasn’t tried and found “not guilty” of child molestation. There was no such verdict, because there was no such trial, because there was no charge, because of a lack of credible evidence (in the house that Mia built). The “trial” you hear so much about was a custody hearing, not a criminal trial. Woody Allen was never charged with abuse of any kind. As a legal matter, this case has been closed for 25 years. Ronan Farrow is a lawyer, and he knows this, but the Farrows still want Allen found guilty in the court of public opinion and they want to shut him down in the business. This is not called justice. It’s called vengeance.

DF: The system worked for Harvey Weinstein for decades. It works for Woody Allen still.

RW: It’s interesting that Ms. Farrow brings up Harvey Weinstein in her attempt to conflate his alleged crimes with her accusation against Allen. It’s the same tactic used by Ronan Farrow last year, trying to connect Allen with Bill Cosby. By naming these other alleged offenders in the same breath with Allen, it answers the very question asked by Dylan’s headline: “Why Has the #MeToo Revolution Spared Woody Allen?” Clearly, one thing shared in common by Cosby, Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, James Toback, Donald Trump, and several others, are the multiple accusations made against all these men, and for each of them, respectively, the claims are all strikingly similar. Woody Allen faces a single accusation of a single alleged incident made by one understandably furious ex-lover in the middle of custody negotiations, after warning him of her intentions.

Trying to denigrate Woody Allen’s career in the name of a movement, no matter how essential or virtuous, doesn’t exactly score one for the “good guys.” Once the dust settles, history tends to be unkind to causes that ignore due process or display indifference towards collateral damage. Everyone should be very careful where they tread here. That goes for #MeToo.

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Robert B. Weide is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose documentaries have covered the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was also the Executive Producer and director of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He tweets @BobWeide.

 

HARD QUESTIONS FOR RONAN FARROW – AN OPEN LETTER

By Robert B. Weide

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After penning his much-read 2014 Daily Beast piece about the Woody Allen allegations, filmmaker and Allen biographer Robert Weide thought he was through with the subject. But after a recent essay by Ronan Farrow in The Hollywood Reporter, encouraging the press to keep asking Allen “the hard questions,” Weide felt it was once again time to respond.

Dear Ronan Farrow:

How would you feel if you unearthed this quote from a prominent friend of Woody Allen‘s, citing his artistic merit, as a defense in the face of child molestation charges?

“[He’s] a loyal friend, important to me, a distinguished director, important to the motion picture industry, and a brave and brilliant man, important to all people.”

Would you be outraged? Would you issue a Tweet, calling out the friend as a rape enabler? Think about it. What would you do?

The quote actually has nothing to do with your father. It appears in the probation report of Roman Polanski, written after the director had been charged with statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. The statement was submitted by the director’s friend and colleague, Mia Farrow.

Now read it again.

I read your recent article for the Hollywood Reporter, in which you hold the media accountable for giving your father a pass, and not asking him “the hard questions.” I found the piece to be disingenuous, irresponsible, and even dangerous. You and your mother have both asked that the press continue to hold Woody Allen’s feet to the fire in the name of “women everywhere” and “all abuse survivors.” But there is plenty of evidence to suggest this isn’t really your primary concern.

Your mother’s statement in Polanski’s probation report seems to imply the director’s artistic talent outweighed the damage he may have caused to the young girl who was then struggling for credibility, even after Polanski’s admission of guilt. Has Mia ever reached out to her over these past forty years to explain her lack of solidarity with the victim? Further, in 2014, your mother’s lawyer in the infamous custody battle, Alan Dershowitz, was accused of having sex with an under aged girl. He aggressively denied the accusation. Last April, a Florida judge dismissed the charge, but because the girl accused him of this crime, shouldn’t you be advocating for her? What about the child victims of Mia’s brother, John Villers-Farrow, who is currently doing prison time for multiple counts of molestation against two young boys? I don’t remember you speaking out when Uncle John had part of his sentence suspended. What about your own brother Moses, who describes being beaten often by Mia as a child? What have you done to help your brother get his story out? For someone who’s concerned with abuse victims “everywhere,” you seem to be less than universal about the cases you feel warrant public scrutiny.

Now you and your mother resort to exploiting the women who have accused Bill Cosby of rape, by trying to hitch your cause to theirs, repeatedly connecting your father’s name to Cosby’s, as though the cases are in any way similar. That would be laughable under less tragic circumstances.

For starters, Cosby has had, what… 50? 60? accusers, many with strikingly similar stories to tell. I assure you, this disturbs me as much as it does you. In your father’s case, there was a single accusation concerning a single alleged incident, raised by an ex-lover during a contentious custody battle. Obviously, the accusation of a single crime should warrant the same attention as a spate of serial abuses. But how can you brush aside the obvious fact that Cosby’s accusers, until very recently, never had their day in court, when your mother, on your sister’s behalf, had months in court as well as unlimited and well-utilized media access?

Furthermore, how many of Cosby’s accusers would give anything to have an extensive court-ordered criminal inquiry into their case, to prove the validity of their claims? As you know full well, your mother and sister had the benefit of just such a review. The Connecticut State Police ordered an investigation by the The Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale/New Haven Hospital, whose six-month inquiry (which included medical and psychological examinations) concluded, decisively and unambiguously, that Dylan had not been molested. (The Yale-New Haven investigation summary is actually available on line for anyone to read.)

Then there was the entirely separate 14-month investigation conducted by the N.Y. State Department of Social Services (child welfare). Guess what their conclusion was? The same as Yale-New Haven: “No credible evidence was found that the child named in this report has been abused or maltreated. This report has, therefore, been considered unfounded.” How could all these official investigations get it so wrong? Although the custody case raged on, criminal charges were never brought against your father.

Let me repeat that: Woody Allen wasn’t tried and found “not guilty,” nor was he exonerated by way of some obscure legal loophole. Rather, two separate, thorough investigations, conducted by highly-regarded teams of professionals, whose job it is to determine whether there is credible evidence to charge someone of a crime, concluded that the incident never happened. Your father was never tried for any crime, because no charges were ever brought against him. Yet you’re essentially asking the media to treat him as a pariah who never faced up to the charge, or was convicted of a crime and managed to negotiate his way out of a proper sentencing. For someone with your background in law, that’s a very interesting position to take.

I won’t rehash the details of the custody case again, since I know you read my Daily Beast piece in 2014. You and I may come to different conclusions as to how all the evidence adds up, but will you concede that it’s possible for reasonable and fair-minded people not to take your side? Can you understand why not everyone is so eager to hop on the bandwagon to tar and feather your father?

And then there’s the matter of your older brother, Moses Farrow, who was thirteen-years-old on “the day in question,” when you were four.

I interviewed Moses for several hours, while preparing my Daily Beast piece, but made only brief reference to our talk, in order to protect his well-deserved privacy. I know you two haven’t spoken for years (he’s referred to “escaping the clan”), but he continues to enjoy a fulfilling career as a licensed marriage and family therapist, dealing with abuse and adoption issues on a regular basis. After publication of my essay, Moses felt further emboldened to come forward to People magazine. Here’s an excerpt from his statement:

“Of course Woody did not molest my sister. 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. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible… Our mother has misled the public into believing it was a happy household of both biological and adopted children. From an early age, my mother demanded obedience and I was often hit as a child.”

When this statement went public, I recall your sister’s response was, “My brother is dead to me.” But I’ve never heard you address Moses’ statement. So here’s a hard question for you: Is your brother Moses a liar?

Your recent essay linked to your sister’s very compelling New York Times piece published on the blog of your family friend, columnist Nicholas Kristof (though it provided no link to your father’s response). To this day, I find the part of Dylan’s letter hardest to shake is the vivid picture she paints of the actual moment of violation, which she says took place in the attic: “[My father] told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me… 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.”

Here’s what your brother Moses recently had to say:

“I assure you, there was no electric train set in that attic. There was nothing practical about that space as a place for kids to play, even if we wanted to. It was an unfinished attic with exposed fiberglass insulation. It smelled of moth balls and there were mouse traps and poison pellets left all around. My mother used it for storage where she kept several trunks full of hand-me-down clothes, that sort of thing. The idea that the space could possibly accommodate a functioning electric train set, circling around the attic, makes no sense at all. One of my brothers did have an elaborate model train set, but it was set up in the boys’ room, a converted garage on the first floor. Maybe that was the train set my sister thinks she remembers.”

Can’t you see how complicated this gets for people who would like to accept your accounting of that day? Can you understand how believing in your father’s innocence doesn’t automatically make one a #RapeEnabler, #PedoApologist, #SlutShamer, or any number of those easy hashtag epithets we’ve all been called? Will you concede that one can believe your father without presuming your sister to be a liar? I feel it’s essential that when anyone claims abuse, you should believe the accuser first, and ask questions later. But why would you advocate doing only the former and not the latter? Are there two sides to every story except yours?

You further suggest that anyone expressing a dissenting point of view from yours is part of a well- orchestrated, robust publicity campaign, masterminded by Woody’s all-powerful publicist, Leslee Dart. I beg to differ, but for the two years I was working on my PBS documentary on your father, I never once had any contact with Ms. Dart, nor anyone in her office. Not only was I not issued any “talking points” when I wrote my Daily Beast piece, but Ms. Dart was never informed I was even writing it, nor have I once spoken to her about the piece you’re reading now. Ironically, your father is well-known for being one of the public figures least dependent on a publicist to run their life, as attested to by any number of reporters who have interviewed him.

You say the media should ask your father the hard questions, but what questions do you have in mind? “Did you molest your daughter?” He’s answered this question countless times, in and out of a court of law, on and off camera, and even during a lie detector test, which he passed. (Your mother wouldn’t take one.) How many times is he supposed to say “no?” Do you think if he’s badgered enough, he’ll suddenly remember things differently? For those who believe your father is being truthful, is it reasonable for them to continually hound your sister with the expectation that she’ll suddenly recant?

It’s not difficult to get the media to follow your lead and rehash your accusations every time Woody Allen has a new film coming out or is presented with another award. Since celebrity scandal is the ultimate click bait, it’s in everyone’s best interests (except your father’s) to keep this story going for as long as possible. But what if serious journalists start resenting being told what to believe, what questions to ask? What happens if they start to feel they’re being played? What if they conclude that your call for responsible journalism may actually be the opposite?

So far, your family has successfully converted a number of celebrities to your cause: Susan Sarandon, Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, and others have issued anti-Woody statements or Tweets, so congratulations on that. Meanwhile, you and your sister call out by name any number of actors who have reserved judgment and chosen to work with your father (many of whom have received death threats following your family’s missives, which doesn’t exactly endear them to your position). You say it hurts your sister every time one of her heroes like Louis C.K. or Miley Cyrus works with your father. Is the inference that if her favorite actors stopped working with him, this would bring her some happiness? If investors stopped financing his films, and studios stopped distributing them, would this finally bring healing and closure to your family? I don’t doubt that you love your sister and want her to feel empowered by speaking out, and with the encouragement of you and her mother and other loved ones, she’s done just that. But if the message here is that her sense of closure is dependent on the opinions of untold millions of strangers who aren’t eager to take her position in this matter (or perhaps any position), isn’t that message the very opposite of empowerment?

And even if you succeeded at riding Woody Allen out of town on a rail, how does that empower all the abused women and children you say you’re standing up for? What can you or I offer those in need of healing who don’t have a newsworthy celebrity in the equation – those who aren’t offered editorial space in the Hollywood Reporter?

For a hint of an answer, I turn to the voice of experience — that of my friend, Samantha Geimer, the “girl” in the Polanski case whose claims were ignored by your mother when she spoke up on behalf of her abuser. Now a mother of three, and a recent grandmother, Sam has given the issues of healing, closure, and empowerment a lot of thought for almost forty years. Here’s what she has to say:

“The most important thing is to try to begin recovering from within. I don’t think you can heal from outside events. Waiting for the actions of others— be it the courts, your family, the opinions of those you care about, or the words of strangers—places you in a situation that you cannot control. Bitterness and retribution, regret and anger are things that poison you; they do not heal you. Accept yourself… Give no one the authority to judge you and do not judge others in how they have chosen to recover. The last and perhaps most difficult thing: Refrain from jumping to conclusions about the guilt of a person who is accused but not charged with or convicted of a crime. I think we all have a lot of work to do.”

Is that something we can all agree on?


Robert B. Weide is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose documentaries have covered the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen and Kurt Vonnegut. He was also the Executive Producer and director of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He awaits the next Twitter onslaught @BobWeide.