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.

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.

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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, 2017: 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. 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 trial, not a criminal one. 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.